By: Maia Evrona

I wheeze when I try to breathe,
and my nose is so stuffed up
it’s been transformed into an instrument
in my symphony of sickness.

My voice has changed: always weak—
a mangled flute—
now it emerges thick
from my sore and congested throat.

With my fever breaking, I can take off my socks
without my feet turning blue and hurting
with a pain that attacks and lasts like the sudden crash
and lingering vibration when cymbals clash.

What a switch! I am so acutely sick
that my chronic symptoms seem faded…
I like to pretend they’re only noticed
in between my ordered sneezes.

But the foghorn cough that came and went,
the throbbing migraines and creaking knees,
the sounds that sound louder than they really are,
clanging against my raw and beaten eardrums,

never did sound like this coordinated affair,
with its conductor so present and focused,
the musicians operating perfectly
on cue.

The symptoms that have droned on
and come and gone over the years,
sometimes louder, sometimes softer,
sometimes as only a memory
echoing in my ears,
have always felt like a cacophony,
so different from this

Maia Evrona’s poems, as well as excerpts from her memoir on growing up with a chronic illness, have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Her translations of Yiddish poetry were awarded a fellowship in 2016 from the NEA and have appeared in Poetry Magazine, The Kenyon Review Online, and other venues. She also loves to sing. Her website is