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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Prose Poem: 223 words
By Janet Bowdan



Oh, yay, the varicella-zoster virus is making its way here again, though perhaps it’s always been here, ever since chicken pox made you miss that party in second grade at the house with the dinosaur prints in the path up to the front door, which you know about because when your mother was a grad student she rented a room there from the professor who haunted the dig until the archaeologists gave her a fossil of a footprint just to get her to go home. Yes, that same virus that drilled a hole in your tooth enamel has been lurking in your nerve tissue, snoozing at the base of your spinal cord, your brain, and maybe one day it will wake up, declare you a winner in this pageant, proclaiming its presence with a banner of blisters wrapping around one side of your torso, or from your ear down to your jaw if you’re lucky and it avoids your eyes, remember, like that poison ivy vine in the garden that brushed against your face and wasn’t that fun. Worth your while to take the shot, take it in the arm you don’t use to write with: it’s going to be sore for days and yet, better that than allowing that excruciating pain lurking under the skin to come out and play.

Janet Bowdan’s
Issue 15, September 2022

poems have appeared in APR, River Heron Review, Mass Poetry, and elsewhere. The editor of Common Ground Review, she teaches at Western New England University and lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with her husband and their son, as well as a vocal cat and a book-nibbling chinchilla.

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