“Consciousness” and “Creole in St. Barth’s”

Poetry by Katherine Lutz

Consciousness

Commuting, standing

in a half-empty

subway car, reading news

on my phone, an article

on two competing

theories of consciousness,

triggers a memory

triggers a memory buried

in the grey matter of my mind.

I am standing in the far corner

of a cavernous

single occupancy room

in the ICU.

Hospital bed articulated.

Shades drawn.

Sheets a white that emits

no light. Self-conscious

young woman in a chair

next to the door. Mechanical box

on the woman’s lap.

“Talk to her, please,” the

woman says.

The box tells the truth,

the woman will not.

Your mother is not conscious.

The space between me and

the bed expands. Monitors

hang like albatross in flight,

poised to land on her chest.

Monitors signal lines

and numbers.

Jump. Hop. Skip.

Numbers and lines.

The box speaks the truth

the woman will not.

Lines and numbers tell the story.

Story and truth.

Death by way of albatross

and shining sheets.

The downside to consciousness

is that while reading an article

on consciousness

your consciousness

will make you experience

that deep like it wasnow.

The subway car is

a cavernous room.

Lights dim.

Monitors hang.

And albatross descend.

Creole in St. Barth’s

Clouds fill the pool with

clear, chemical-free

water the doves

drink if they stand on the

lip

as fat

raindrops soak their feathers.

The word is pale, a pink plastered

Storefront Google shows

me when I search

for a restaurant near Saline.

The hermit crab whispers it as I place

him gently on the rocks

at that Grand beach.

“There is no creole,” he

says, “left in this place.”

At the supermarché,

rows of beige, limp asparagus,

chantarelles, cassoulet

preserved in jars. Artificial

yogurts in glass like baby

food and vast heads of red

leaf lettuce.

All sourced from France.

At an overlook in Gustavia, dark

skin between the palms

and aloes where the motorcyclists sit

with long dreads like ropes under

cherry-red helmets.

A couple and child at the restaurant.

Is the same child wearing a

pale pink smock and tight braids

barred behind fencing

as cranes move stone and beams overhead?

Her dark skin a void against the

stinging white of Pearl beach.

About the Author

Katherine Lutz

Katherine Lutz holds a B.A. in Biology and Spanish from Wellesley College and a M.S. in Science Journalism from Boston University. She is a longtime, Boston-based science and health writer and a more recent poet.