The Alchemy of Survival

Ann Wallace

Ann Wallace

The Alchemy of Survival was accepted as part of the MSU Library Short Edition call for work on the theme of “recovery,” in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum's exhibit of Beverly Fishman's art, also called Recovery. Ann E. Wallace, a poet and essayist from Jersey City, New Jersey, is author of the poetry collection Counting by Sevens (Main Street Rag). She has published work in Huffington Post, Wordgathering, Halfway Down the Stairs, Snapdragon, and many other journals. Follow her on Twitter @annwlace409 and Instagram @AnnWallace409, or read her work at

The science was there,
in the chemo cocktail that dripped
into me for 5 days each month,
a regimen my body bucked
and fought until the drugs won.

I grew strong, learned to see the world
anew in the light refracted
off the shards of my weary soul.

And I fell sick again. And again.
Each time, I tinkered, trying to spark
an ember from basest of metals, dark
and lifeless, until the smallest flare
of hope caught fire and I bent over,
cupped my hands around the flame
and blew gently until it danced.

Explore the power of words

Select your story