Celeste Lipkes


The side effects of Prednisone include mood swings, rounding of the face, sensation of spinning, thin, shiny skin, and poor wound healing.                  — 


The doctor clicks his pen and says it's just a phase.
My fat moon-face comes second to the x-rays

he pulls from a folder labeled with my room number.
I'm taking 75mgs of Prednisone a day. It's summer,

and I'm paler than I've ever been. Lookin' good,
the doctor says, by which I think he means: you could

look worse. Here in room 208, I've come to love
men who tell the truth, who touch me without gloves,

and let me skimp on barium. My x-ray tech this afternoon
wasn't one. He looked at me as if peering through

a telescope and, I, the cold and distant satellite,
moved quietly into his crosshairs. Hold tight!

he said. I waited for him to let me breathe again.
Released and back at home, I drift into the kitchen.

I'm scarred and white and wide, but never full. I try to sleep.
I think: my life is one big compromise while counting sacrificial sheep.

One night I cup two dozen pills inside my palms,
close my eyes, and think of swallowing them all.

Instead, I eat two sandwiches. Outside, on the night's thin skin,
a white bruise grows, then shrinks, then blooms again.