The Pressure

TORY DENT, a poet and essayist, died of an infection associated with AIDS on Friday at her home in New York. She was 47. The lines that follow are taken from her poem "The Pressure."


"Look, an infection," my doctor declares with index finger pointed in discovery.

I blink twice, straining for recognition as I do with any picture of myself.

The shadow he refers to bursts white and translucent and upon first impression

it appears optimistic as if a good omen were growing like an orchid in my bosom.

My impulse is to be alone with the x-ray like a loved one and the incarcerated,

to press the picture of my unhealthy lung against its double but breathing one.

What I know is the desire to resuscitate, mouth to mouth, open the dank jaws,

the partisan skin, as if beheld behind venetian blinds, zebra strips of soaked hair

and brown seaweed strewn across the face, and bring back as if to carry back in time

the fainting subject, the feminine form worn out from the fight. Her arms and feet

flag like pigeons, her weight, letter-light along my overdeveloped forearms,

their destiny as once sophomoric I dreamt it now drawn and quartered

into an array of listless limbs kicked up into a cloud, gray-blue and particle-

stained, of a hoof-clad road where a mare's distancing tail delineates

in the dusk evidence given in its disappearance, the myth of originary wholeness.

"The Pressure" was published in "HIV, Mon Amour," published by Sheep Meadow Press. Copyright Copyright 1999 by TORY DENT. Reprinted with permission of her husband.

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