Ashley Seitz Kramer and Rachel Morton

Rachel Morton
Hand-Built Clay
Inspiration Piece

Ashley Seitz Kramer

…………for Ignaz Semmelweis, 1818-1865

He is with a patient now—a woman wet
with fever & flooding & there is
blood & soon a child will wail inside
the vellum walls. What you have heard
about Ignaz is true. He is a doctor,
a good one, sickened by the sickness.
Listen to the slow sound of the body
unlocking. The Savior of the Mothers
holds a key too small to see. (Only
the truth is smaller.) Ignaz remembers
stocking the shelves in his father’s grocery,
the weight of one can in his young
hands. This is how he learned to count & now
he counts the dead—hundreds each year
& holding & look how low he holds his head.
What is the weight of a single death & how
to know Ignaz is right? His colleagues are
afraid, but mostly they are angry. Never under-
estimate the ill effects of accusation.
In the asylum
there is emptiness, the kind that no one cures.
In the asylum there is darkness & in the world
there is the same. Dark enough for a woman
to mistake her husband for an evil man. Dark
enough for a man to become his own stone
shadow. What you have heard about Ignaz
is true: he has died from his wounds.

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