Diabetes by Amie Sharp

By Amie Sharp
 My mother pricks her finger. Dinner’s almost 
 ready—halftime, our team losing again, 
 and now her rosemary potatoes will be our solace. 
 For the fourth time today, she tests her blood. 
 My mother loves football and Westerns, 
 James Garner as Maverick. Years after a virus 
 ambushed her pancreas, she wears 
 an insulin pump, and while it works 
 she’s a classic movie savant. Give her any 
 character actor, Sydney Greenstreet, say—
 she can list his roles. But then her sugar drops, 
 her eyes haze, she casts her mind 
 around for what she needs . . . orange juice . . .  
 some jelly beans. She’s told me of a man
 from my Tennessee hometown, who left 
 the hospital after his amputation to hobble 
 through the front door of Patsy’s Restaurant. 
 A helpless waitress brought him apple pie 
 and watched as he ate the whole thing, 
 gambling his very blood on its sweetness. 
 Just sick of it, my mother guessed.
 Now she squeezes a glossy disc 
 onto a strip, deciphers numbers. 
 She doesn’t mention the ocean 
 of these red droplets she’s measured. 
 Because we need her, she knows 
 what she has to do 
 again and again and again and again.   

“Diabetes” by Amie Sharp. Copyright © 2012. Originally appeared in Rearrange. Reprinted in What Lies Beyond the Frame, edited by Stan Galloway and Elizabeth Liebl.