You can read Jack Ridl’s bio here. What can I add to what’s there? That he’s a generous, funny, goodhearted man. And that he’s a founding member of the CavanKerry Press ADA Advisory Board.
–Teresa Carson, Associate Publisher
For eight years my wife, Julie, has had Lyme disease. She has refused to allow how it limits her from keeping her from continuing her art, writing, knitting, delight in books, films, music, friends, and caring for the multiple souls she cares for. I’ve published two poems that come out from our experience.
Within the Moment of Indefinite Suffering
All it takes is a tick. You can be walking
your dog. Your dog can be stopping to
sniff a patch of jewel weed or pausing
to pee on a post surrounded by poison ivy.
You could be watching a swallowtail slowly
lifting and settling its wings while resting on
a swatch of crown vetch. The sun could be
lost behind clouds, clustered in a cumulus
mound of white or sinister gray, the moon
could be full, waning, new, the stars moving
across their scrim of deep space, everything
still benign in its revolving threat. You
could be sweeping the walk, passing under
the pergola draped in wisteria, wedding veil,
honeysuckle, or merely sitting on the bench
beside the brook out back. Or taking a path
through the park, joggers steady-stepping, or
walking along the well-worn trail to the pond
at the edge of town where you could be sitting
under the willow, its branches hanging their braids
over your wait for the sunfish to surface. It could all be
beautiful: the day, the light, the breeze bending the tall grass.
— To all those suffering under the politics of Lyme disease
On Going with My Wife to Her Doctor
We don’t know what’s wrong. We’ve waited
for more than a year to find out what’s wrong.
We’ve waited for five specialists to tell us
what’s wrong. We’ve waited through thigh length
blood clots, migraines that seem the eternal
twin of sustained electro shock, pains that twist
her stomach into the devil’s balloon animal.
Every diagnosis has amounted to nothing
more than maybe. Med after med, strung out
and taken daily, a rosary prescribed by priests
with malpractice insurance. Now here we sit
again. I try to read a month old Newsweek.
They call her name. “You wait here.” Yes,
here is where I’ll wait. No one sits next to
anyone. Now and then a cough hovers
over all of us. Nearly everyone stares.
Now and then a sigh. Behind the counter,
the kempt receptionist welcomes each entrant,
checks date of birth, current address, accepts
the co-pay. It’s mid-April. It’s still cold.
One specialist proclaimed, “It’s likely lupus.”
Another, “Let’s first work on those headaches.”
Another ordered, “We’ll set you up for a series
of steroid shots. Can you start tomorrow?”
I look across the room. The TV is tuned to
a health channel. A woman in a bright pink
shirt is smiling and talking about what to eat.
Sitting under the set is a man, unshaven, cuts
across his forehead. He has a cause and a cure.
“In sickness and in health.” I am ashamed.
I open the Newsweek: “The War in Iraq.”
A nurse calls, “John Larson?” The unshaven
man gets up, walks across the room. “How are
you today?” and they disappear down the hall.
I turn a few pages: Brad and Angelina and
their kids. The woman on the TV is talking
about diabetes. The mail carrier comes in,
drops a stack on the counter. “Hi, girls!”
I think, “We will be okay.” I think, “Too
many medications. That many cannot work
together.” I laugh to myself thinking, “We’re
living in a age of side effects. What would
it be like to have an erection lasting four hours?”
I know in mid-June our gardens will be lush,
blossoms surrounded by the comforting hues
of ground covers, grasses, mosses. Maybe she
will be glad for that. A patient sits down next
to me, asks, “Why are you here?” “It’s my
wife.” “She sick?” “Yes. You?” “Yeah, I’m
sick too. I think it’s just what’s going around.”