Medical History

Poetry / Nicole Sealey

:: Medical History ::

I’ve been pregnant. I’ve had sex with a man
who’s had sex with men. I can’t sleep.
My mother has, my mother’s mother had,
asthma. My father had a stroke. My father’s
mother has high blood pressure.
Both grandfathers died from diabetes.
I drink. I don’t smoke. Xanax for flying.
Propranolol for anxiety. My eyes are bad.
I’m spooked by wind. Cousin Lilly died
from an aneurysm. Aunt Hilda, a heart attack.
Uncle Ken, wise as he was, was hit
by a car as if to disprove whatever theory
toward which I write. And, I understand,
the stars in the sky are already dead.


From the writer

:: Account ::

Med­ical His­to­ry” is ded­i­cat­ed to the mem­o­ry of my cousin Fran­cis­co San­ti­a­go, who died on August 10, 2015.

Truth is: I remem­ber nei­ther what I was think­ing nor read­ing when I draft­ed this poem. I do know that it was con­ceived on the heels of anoth­er poem I’d writ­ten enti­tled “The First Per­son Who Will Live to Be One Hun­dred and Fifty Years Old Has Already Been Born,” in which the speak­er attempts to con­vince both her­self and her aging moth­er that they still have plen­ty of time left. Unlike the for­mer, how­ev­er, the nar­ra­tor in “Med­ical His­to­ry” is not under any false pretenses.

Also, the stars in the sky are most like­ly not dead. The dis­tance between us and the stars is so great that we can only see the bright­est stars, which is to say the most alive.


Nicole Sealey is a Cave Canem grad­u­ate fel­low as well as the recip­i­ent of an Eliz­a­beth George Foun­da­tion Grant. She is the author of The Ani­mal After Whom Oth­er Ani­mals Are Named, win­ner of the 2015 Drink­ing Gourd Chap­book Poet­ry Prize, forth­com­ing from North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty Press.