Showing 3021 - 3030 of 3163 annotations

The Size of the Lesion

Straus, Marc

Last Updated: Dec-09-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Sometimes communication is best served when it doesn't communicate baldly and precisely. In this 12 line poem "a daughter comes in late / and you don't say exactly what you feel . . . ." You tell a patient "the x-ray showed / little change, knowing they won't ask / if the lesion's a little smaller or larger."

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Stroke

Smith, Dave

Last Updated: Dec-09-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The patient lies in the hospital after having a stroke. The "word" is the patient's best friend, but suddenly it's become what "you can't say." "You lie flat / in the white yards of the clinic" unable to find the word. Like a dog, it "drags its chain over the emptied / bowl, barks," but the patient is unable to call it or command it. The stroke victim must simply wait and listen.

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After the Argument

Dunn, Stephen

Last Updated: Dec-09-1996
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Dunn's poem describes the choreography of married couples after an argument. The narrative voice considers how silence is imposed, then broken and how two people eventually come together after an unpleasant exchange of words. There are, according to the speaker, unspoken rules and rituals. First, a long silence permeates: after all, "whoever spoke first would lose something." In this household drama there is meaning to the clanging of dishes, sleeping arrangements, and accidental touching.

Eventually, one or the other is careless, spontaneously and shamelessly breaking the Yalta-like stalemate with an observation about something ordinary such as a "cardinal on the bird seeder." An accidental comment secures a truce, bringing the couple together in sex, a "knot untying itself."

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The Book of Mercy

Cambor, Kathleen

Last Updated: Nov-22-1996
Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The Book of Mercy is a novel in which each member of a family tries to deal, in individually idiosyncratic ways, with his or her abandonment, as a family and as individuals, by their wife/mother.

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Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

Thirteen-year-old Sarah's mother, a lively, successful lawyer, discovers she has metastatic cancer. The story covers the months between her diagnosis and death. Sarah's dad is a minor character; there is little portrayal of his relationship with the mother, or with Sarah, except when he's announcing bad news. Sarah finds herself reacting in unexpected ways--feeling hateful, angry, detached, paralyzed, inclined to deny the whole thing.

The supporting character is Sarah's friend, Robin, whose mother has agoraphobia, never goes anywhere, knows few people, and rarely allows Robin to invite Sarah over. Sarah comes to understand this problem for the first time when her own mother's illness opens channels of communication between the girls.

The moment of the mother's death is described briefly but vividly: "Mom suddenly lifted both hands, pressed them hard against her forehead. She looked at me once, her eyes huge, and for an instant, it was as if she were pleading with me." The mystery of what her mother might have wanted in that final moment haunts Sarah--a reminder that death leaves questions with no answers. As the story ends, Sarah rereads a note from her mother which concludes, "'Don't let anybody tell you differently. What we're going through stinks. It just plain stinks." The novel ends with this emotional truth, making little attempt to soften it by speculation about afterlife.

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Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This poem is a very natural, very private mother-daughter moment that celebrates the female body. A light-spirited let's-name-body-parts moment has emerged on the bed as "My daughter spreads her legs / to find her vagina." What follows is part spontaneous, light-spirited comparison between the daughter's body and her mother's ("She demands / to see mine"), and a reminder that this "is what a stranger cannot touch / without her yelling."

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The Wishing Box

Plath, Sylvia

Last Updated: Nov-22-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Agnes Higgins envies her husband Harold's ability to have brilliant and captivating dreams, nightly exotic dreams which he can recount to her in vivid detail. Agnes's dreams, when she has them, are ugly and frightening. Harold begins to coach Agnes in techniques for achieving perfect dreams. Agnes practices. She becomes progressively preoccupied with learning how to dream, but is unable to achieve a satisfying result. She becomes depressed, insomniac, and finally takes a fatal dose of sleeping pills. Harold finds Agnes "with her tranquil features set in a slight, secret smile of triumph . . . ."

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Brown Lung

Rash, Ron

Last Updated: Nov-01-1996
Annotated by:
Terry, James

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Sometimes I'd spend the whole night coughing up / what I'd been breathing all day at work. With this beginning to a 20-line poem, the author presents the plain, straightforward suffering of a laborer with lungs damaged as a result of his job in a cotton mill. The doctor he consults simply advises that he get a different job, at which the speaker scoffs: "as if / a man who had no land or education / could find himself another way to live." His foreman more humanely transfers him to an outside position loading boxcars. But the damage has been done: "I'd still wake / gasping for air at least one time a night. / When I dreamed I dreamed of bumper crops / of Carolina cotton in my chest."

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Annie's Monster

Corcoran, Barbara

Last Updated: Nov-01-1996
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

Annie, daughter of an Episcopalian priest, inherits a wolfhound from a woman in the parish. While on a walk, she and her huge dog discover a homeless woman in an old abandoned shed. The woman is mentally unstable, having escaped from a mental institution. Originally suspicious and threatening, she finally calms to Annie's spunky attentions and tells her the problem: her condition can be controlled with a drug they administered in the mental hospital, but conditions in the hospital were so dehumanizing she's unwilling to go back even for medical relief.

Annie makes a project of helping the old woman, though her father objects, preferring the institutional solution. Annie finds an ally in her father's assistant, a more socially active priest. With his help Annie makes the parish and her father aware of problems in institutions that care for the mentally ill. Her father finally admits to the congregation that the parish ought to be more invested in local social services.

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A Summer to Die

Lowry, Lois

Last Updated: Oct-31-1996
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

Thirteen-year-old Meg tells the story of the summer of her fifteen-year-old sister’s death. One night Molly awakens covered with blood, Meg calls their parents, and Molly goes to the hospital where she remains for weeks, undergoing tests. It takes Meg a long time to let herself realize how bad it is, even after the magnitude of the illness is visible on Molly’s ravaged body.

Much of the medical detail in the hospital scenes makes clear how advanced the disease is, but Meg masks her growing fear with disgust, projecting her fear onto doctors she decides must be using Molly for experiments and exaggerating the seriousness of her condition. Unable to open herself to an empathy that would require both an unusual act of imagination and courage to face grief, Meg focuses on the bizarre visible effects of Molly’s illness and on her own altered daily life. Her oddly "selfish" perspective, understood as a self-protective strategy, makes complete sense.

In the midst of the slow progress of Molly’s leukemia, Meg develops friendships with an old man and a young couple expecting a baby. Both contacts help normalize her world, provide her with "reality checks" and give her a quality of attention her parents can’t manage at the time. After the baby is born, Meg gains a new perspective on the precarious miracle of life and finds the courage to go to the hospital to see Molly, now in the final stages of the disease. Meg and her parents are emotionally reunited in their loss, and in the final chapter Meg reflects on the paradox of healing that doesn’t cover over loss, but allows life to be good again in different terms.

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