Faith Shearin


Something is wrong with my husband’s throat. Doctors

have names for it — I don’t know what they are —

but sometimes, after chewing chicken or bread, the food

sticks. (I think of a river too thin for a passing canoe.)

He is always polite — embarrassed really — and spits

in a cup, unable to swallow, on a quiet ride to a hospital.

I do not drive him there. His father went once, another time

his mother. I stay home with our baby. I say: “The baby

can’t go,” or “The baby is tired.” What I mean is:

I can’t see him wrapped in paper, a mask over his handsome

head, the slow sleep of drugs in his arm. If I don’t sit at

his bedside I can pretend we are too young for bedsides,

that his health is as strong as his will, that we are likely

to stay healthy and upright, the river under us where it belongs.