By Jen Karetnik
I follow idols down a scripted path
toward the reproduction of fickle cells,
swallowing substitutes like an oath.
With the return of desire is growth,
new hair, fuzzy as leaves, fingernails
punching points in the soft skin of the path,
and years released with every pent breath.
Yesterday, tomorrow, hope is a scale
that weighs substitutions like an oath,
and far above my head is the wispy wreath.
But today there is that glorious fuel
that powers me down an uncharted path,
and between day and night I can choose both;
today I dress in pearls that gleam like pills.
Wallowing in permission like an oath
I have no limits to argue with—
I can eat ice cream, pay bills, paint walls—
as long as I follow this prescripted path,
swallow forever the exact same oath.
“For Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis” was previously published in American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, 2016) and is posted here with the author’s permission.
Jen Karetnick is the author of seven poetry collections, most recently American Sentencing(Winter Goose Publications, 2016), finalist for the 2017 Julie Suk Award, and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize. The winner of the 2017 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, the 2016 Romeo Lemay Poetry Prize and the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, Karetnick’s work appears or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, The Evansville Review, Guernica, Prairie Schooner, Verse Daily and Waxwing. She works as the Creative Writing Director at Miami Arts Charter School and as a freelance dining critic, journalist and cookbook author.