“Dialysis,” Lucille Clifton

after the cancer, the kidneys
refused to continue.
they closed their thousand eyes.

blood fountains from the blind man’s
arm and decorates the tile today.
somebody mops it up.

the woman who is over ninety
cries for her mother, if our dead
were here they would save us.

we are not supposed to hate
the dialysis unit. we are not
supposed to hate the universe.

this is not supposed to happen to me.
after the cancer the body refused
to lose any more. even the poisons
were claimed and kept

until they threatened to destroy
the heart they loved. in my dream
a house is burning.

something crawls out of the fire
cleansed and purified.
in my dream i call it light.

after the cancer i was so grateful
to be alive. i am alive and furious.
Blessed be even this?

“The Reassurer,” Wendell Berry

People in the throes of national prosperity, who breathe poisoned air, drink poisoned water, eat poisoned food,
who take poisoned medicines to heal them of the poisons that they breathe, drink, and eat,
such a people crave the further poison of official reassurance. It is not logical,
but it is understandable, perhaps, that they adore their President who tells them that all is well, all is better than ever.
The President reassures the farmer and his wife who
have exhausted their farm to pay for it, and have exhausted themselves to pay for it,
and have not paid for it, and have gone bankrupt for the sake of the free market, foreign trade, and the
prosperity of corporations;
he consoles the Navahos, who have been exiled from their place of exile, because the poor land contained
something required for the national prosperity,
after all; he consoles the young woman dying of cancer caused by a substance used in the normal course of national
prosperity to make red apples redder;
he consoles the couple in the Kentucky coalfields, who sit watching TV in their mobile home on the mud of
the floor of a mined-out stripmine;
from his smile they understand that the fortunate have a right to their fortunes, that the unfortunate have a right to their misfortunes, and that these are
equal rights.
The President smiles with the disarming smile of a man who has seen God, and found Him a true American,
not overbearingly smart.
The President reassures the Chairman of the Board of the Humane Health for Profit Corporation of America,
who knows in his replaceable heart that health, if it came, would bring financial ruin;
he reassures the Chairman of the Board of the Victory and Honor for Profit Corporation of America, who has been wakened in the night by a dream of the
calamity of peace.