Illness hides me from myself.
Someone else is lying on this narrow hospital bed
Alone with unnamed bacteria for company
Hyperactive antibodies and slow-growing hair.
Then a visitor, a face above tumbling flowers,
An unruly froth of garden chaos,
White roses, pink buds, hauling the outside in.
The shock restarts my heart.
Petals scatter scornful on the polished floor.
It’s a moment of identity in a tiny room
Whose borders are stiffly moving nylon curtains.
It is the Union Jack at the South Pole,
The Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima
Hillary on Everest.
It says, “Here is Janice.”
I accept the challenge.