Medicine Bag

For when panic begins to vibrate the backs
of your arms like they’re the trees and panic is
whatever vibrates the trees, leafhoppers
or helicopters, the psychiatrist tells you
to fill a small bag with handwritten notecards
promising     this will end     this will not
kill you
    this no one ever died from
and you add gum and headphones and a votive,
citrus verbena, a bridal shower party favor.
With masking tape and a Sharpie you write
Dymphna Dymphna, each side of the candle,
and draw your best version of a bouquet of lilies.
From patron saint of the nervous, the mad,
the runaways, you’ll ask for intercession:
Let you never again leave your nine-year-old
niece at a concert inside the Georgia Dome
and lie on a park bench, count to the right number
of sirens or power lines just to be able to breathe.
Let her never hold up your cell phone light,
one in the thousands of stars. Let her never
sway alone in the dark. Never notice you’re gone.

Kristen Robertson
Kristin Robertson is the author of Surgical Wing (Alice James Books, 2017). Her poetry appears recently or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, The Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, and Prairie Schooner, among other journals. Winner of the Laux/Millar Poetry Prize, Kristin has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Squaw Valley. She lives in Nashville.