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MUSED Literary Magazine.

Ankylosing Spondylitis and Me

Catherine Coundjeris

This poem was written back in 1997
when I was newly diagnosed with this disease
and struggling with the reality of it.

I want to leave my footprints in the sand,
But summer is so far away.
I want to splash in the surf,
But my heart is made of stone.

Harden not your heart
He told me,
And I listened once
Upon a time in pink tights and a black leotard,
Dancing with a spine that was normal.

Now you can see my future
As you have told others before me.
Itīs routine and no need to fear
Semi amputation.

Deteriorating, fusing, and deforming.
These are words I read today.
Be careful I am made of glass.
You can see right through me.
X-rays line up to show me my illness.

I am made of glass,
Fracturing into pieces: Little words of despair,
Petrified wood scattered on the beaches.
The terror of an iron mask, and
A neck frozen, a bamboo spine.

I am supporting a glass psyche
To pour through and heat
Me into a molten lump of color.
Created out of obsidian and silicon

Blue and green and white for shaping
Into glass cathedrals stain-glass windows
Into the immovable center of the soul.