The Diagnosis: You have an Autoimmune Disease.
The Question: How are You?
What is this new life you have been handed? Where does it lead? How do you even feel? Sometimes the pathway ahead is murky, seemingly impossible to pass through. Life throws you a twist you didn't see, know or desire.
In the midst of adversity, how do you cope? How do you process? How do you move forward?
Join this poetic journey of intimate details through the ache of life's unraveling, from the maddening free fall of diagnosis, to emerging and seeing the beautiful possibilities of living with chronic illness.
Whirl away, arms wide to embrace what is yet to come...
In the first two sections, Johnson pens frenetic and even choppy lines, suggesting the anxiety of identifying an illness and figuring out a course of action. She personifies sickness and fatigue as antagonists barking orders at her: “Sit NOW! / Lay down NOW!” The poems in “Symptomatic” and “Treatments” contain minimal punctuation, pulling readers into the “lupus fog” right along with the poet. Many of these selections lament her uncomfortable situation, which can be taxing for empathetic readers, but Johnson always balances out the struggle with rousing affirmations of her own humanity and worth: “ME / This beautiful creation with thoughts of futures and dreams / ME / This creative woman who loves passionately.” In the last section, Johnson’s rediscovery of a zest for life shines through in her lush, longer lines, a standout being “Bloom”—“Reach out new / Hold tight bloom / Wind gust, take flight / Fingers of curls leading / Watching lemon cocktail purple flower / New growth driven in the thickness of summer.”
These poems bare her mind and heart. Johnson admits her fear of asking for help towards the beginning—”Don’t want to worry / Anyone including me”—but by sharing her experiences, and by emphasizing her humanity rather than her diagnosis, she offers welcome comfort.
Takeaway: Poetically minded readers will love Johnson’s lush, fearless verse about her life with lupus.
Great for fans of: Anne Sexton, James Strazza, Danez Smith.
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