Letter from the Rehabilitation Institute

Getsi, Lucia Cordell

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Donley, Carol
  • Date of entry: May-22-2001
  • Last revised: Jan-12-2010


The poet's daughter suffered from Guillain-Barré Syndrome and was in a rehab institute. The mother, who narrates the poem, observes several of the other children there, all of whom seem either abandoned by their parents or orphaned. Each stanza describes a different child with a different disability (and no family there for him or her).

The only mother who appears stays far away from her child. "When he goes home, Frankenstein with cane, his mother / clicks her high heels quickly away, as far ahead / of him as she can get."


This poem leaves the reader feeling distressed over the abandonment of these children as well as over their suffering from injury and illness. Some children are there because they were involved in accidents that killed their parents, but most have been put there because parents can't or won't take care of them. The poem suggests that many cannot cope with chronic or long-term illnesses of their children. "No, / there is nothing to be done about difference. / It leaves a mark."


Intensive Care, the collection in which this poem appears, won the 1990 Capricorn Poetry Prize. All of the poems in the collection concern the year-long paralysing illness of Getsi's then teenage daughter. Getsi is University Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Illinois State University.

Primary Source

Intensive Care


New Rivers

Place Published

Minneapolis, Minn.



Page Count