Insulin Shock Therapy by Dana Henry Martin

I hear the music again. It’s my mother
singing through the clay earth

from her grave the way she sang
from her bed at the asylum

until they shut her up. I move
to the tune one thousand miles

from her coffin, my body
dipping this way and that

as if I’m a hummingbird
in one of her Fabergé eggs,

forever bobbing at honeysuckle.
My body stiffens. I’ve been betrayed

by the sweetness she still conjures
from her insulin-soaked life,

those days doctors and nurses
drowned her with sugar water

until she fell into a coma.
To calm her, they told my father.

To make her normal. She poured
her crystalline blood into my blood,

her candied bones into my bones.
Little bird, little mother, can you feel

that tube in your nose? Do you see
the man with a funnel on the other end?

What should we call him — God?
What song should we sing for him.


Dana Henry Martin’s work has appeared in Barrow Street, Chiron Review, Cider Press Review, FRiGG, Muzzle, New Letters, Rogue Agent, Stirring, Willow Springs, and other literary journals. Martin’s poetry collections include the chapbooks Toward What Is Awful (YesYes Books), In the Space Where I Was (Hyacinth Girl Press), and The Spare Room (Blood Pudding Press).

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