Salamander 2024 Fiction Contest

SUBMIT: May 1 through June 2, 2024 | READING FEE: $15


What Does a Little Hospital Poem Taste Of

Ally Covino
| poetry


At first, immunizations & cherry lollipops. Scales, stethoscopes,
Disposable bedding. Formica & triage rooms. The delayed ache
Of epidurals & birth. Latex gloves. Barium. The occasional mistaken
Stone & sludge. Operations & all the risks of being opened up:
Never numb, always awakening in the middle of it to scratch your nose,
And other side effects of mutated genes. Rolling veins. Curtains
That keep the breath exposed, shield the x-rays. Slipped capital femoral
Epiphyses. Traction & steel pins. On lucky days, Swedish meatballs
& egg noodles, peonies & lilacs, twice-hourly nurse visits. Ice chips.
Pneumonia. (Mis)Diagnoses & prayer. Morphine. Hepatitis D & liver failure.
Quadruple bypasses. Bedpans & manhood pilfered. The Doctors, heard
But never seen. On the worst days, It’s-Its & naan from anywhere
Other than the cafeteria. Vitals in electric green. At last, so many monitors.
Little chapels with stained glass. Antiseptic & apple juice.

Ally Covino is a graduate of the New Writer’s Project, as well as the recipient of a Michener Fellowship and a prize from the Academy of American Poets. She lives in San Francisco.

Bedroom in a Borrowed City
At Five I Burned Down My Grandmother’s Bathroom