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As I Pay Forty Dollars

By Susan Eisenberg

for my asthma inhaler that
last year cost fifteen
I pause     for the mom

whose young son will forget
his inhaler / on the bus /
at his friend’s house /
in the park / at the game /
maybe in his school locker /

who’ll forget to remember
he sometimes needs
that inhaler to breathe

or what $40 costs.

How she might
slap the back of his head
or try to shake some respect
into those thin shoulders
or might yell words she’ll regret
but cannot unsay

or worse
how she might
just sit down
in a slump
that faraway
given-up look
on her face

until he promises to find
that inhaler / never
lose it again ever.

Added: Thursday, May 25, 2017  /  © 2017, Susan Eisenberg. Used with permission.
Susan Eisenberg

Susan Eisenberg is a poet, visual artist, oral historian, and licensed electrician. Her fourth poetry collection, Perpetual Care, explores the experience of chronic illness in today’s medical system. Among the first women in the country to complete a union apprenticeship at the start of affirmative action, she is author of the nonfiction NYT Notable Book, We’ll Call You If We Need You: Experiences of Women Working Construction. Her mixed media installation, On Equal Terms, toured to galleries in Massachusetts, New York, and Michigan. She has read her poems at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC. She is the 2016-2017 Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist at the University of Michigan. Please visit her website.

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