Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Johns Hopkins Hospital, at the Corner of Orleans and N. Broadway

by Leona Sevick

In the car, you take a deep breath, worried that on
the drive home you’ll mistake dreaming for waking
and you’ll have to pinch or slap yourself at regular
intervals. It’s the kind of tired no one wants to be,
when your limbs shake starting from the inside,
right around the bone before moving to the softer
parts, your eyelid jumping so violently you’re sure
the young security guard can see it from his desk
where he signals goodbye. You’re leaving her here,
drains protruding from her jaw and thigh, dried blood
caking her tongue, eyes following you to the door
where she sees you’re headed home where you’ll fall
into bed and sleep the dreamless sleep of dread and
heartache. At the corner of Orleans and North
Broadway, a girl steps in front of your headlights
like she’s walked onto a stage, her greasy blond hair
framing the good bones in her face and the eyes
glistening with opioid light. She is dirty, but the track
pants and t-shirt look like they were once clean,
once worn by the short redhead you teach who
rolls out of bed and into her chair five minutes
late every day, clean hair pulled back into a top-knot,
sleep crumbs still gathered at the corners of her
green eyes. Because you’re slower than usual,
because you’ve spent these last days folded into
waiting room chairs making good news out of
bad and listening to the private tragedies of
strangers, you don’t look away in time to avoid
the gaze, the darkened teeth that once wore braces,
the slight frame that has been or will be violated in
ways too gruesome to comprehend. The red light is
interminable, and so you rest your forehead on the
steering wheel for you don’t know how long until
you hear a soft tapping on your hood and the girl is
pointing to the light that’s now green, and you drive on.


—Second Place Winner ($250 cash prize) of the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2017, and first published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2017-18 (Garden Oak Press, February 2018); appears here with permissions from the publisher and the poet


SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Leona Sevick

is the author of a full-length collection of poems, Lion Brothers (2017 Press 53 Poetry Award Winner) and a chapbook, Damaged Little Creatures (FutureCycle Press, 2015). Her poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Stream Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Little Patuxent Review, North American Review, Prelude, Quiddity, The Boiler Journal, and The Journal. She serves as a member of the advisory board for the Furious Flower Poetry Center and is provost at Bridgewater College in Virginia.

Author’s website:

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury