A Poem by Laura Secord

In Exam Room 262

                    after Li-Young Lee


The trans Wiccan spiritual advisor,

who solicits sex displaying estrogen breasts

in a tight tank top, safety-pinned together;

who tosses her diva-length raspberry hair

to frame her face; who awaits a court case

win to move to L.A. and be a porn queen― she is not me.


The woman whose ex stalks her, breaking

her doors and windows,

jumping from a dumpster to beat her face;

who tries and fails to disguise her bruises

with ochre foundation; who fears for her life,

but won’t go to a shelter;


and the young woman named for a virtue,

who was trafficked out of Mali

from genocide in her country; who’s glad

the FBI now considers her a victim;

who writes her story on a library’s computer,

for lack of her own― they are not me.


The man who isn’t eating any more,

shrinking since he and his sister split

in anger, looking like a death camp

survivor; who assures me that God

doesn’t see self-starvation as a sin― he isn’t me.


Not even the student, pale and thin as smoke,

who took two jobs to support his partner, a PhD

unable to work; and buys him meth, vodka,

and cocaine; saying, Maybe we’ll marry and

he can get his green card; he wasn’t HIV

when we met— this young man, who’d give


anything for love— not even he is me,

but I hear his and all the other’s voices

at dawn, rousing me from dreams

of a healed world’s awakening.




E9865B2D-4371-4841-B0BB-72AF56299EFCLaura Secord has been an offset printer, union organizer, health care activist, teacher, and a sex-educator. For thirty years, she combined the life of a writer and performer with a career as a Nurse Practitioner in HIV care. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College. A Pushcart nominee, her poems have appeared in the Birmingham Weekly, Arts and Understanding, The Southern Women’s Review, PoemMemoirStory, Passager, Indolent Books and Burning House Press. She is the co-founder of Birmingham’s Sister City Spoken Word Collective.


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