Training Ground

Ann Wallace

Ann Wallace

Training Ground 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, as well as Juniper and many other journals. Follow her on Twitter @annwlace409 and Instagram @AnnWallace409, or read her work at

Each decade, or sooner,
I've been granted a fresh chance
to master the art of illness.
I cut the teeth of adulthood
with a tumor and my ovary
dissected in the lab, a bare head,
and a fridge full of chemo.
My doctor called me kid,
and she was not wrong.
The fragile pact of my survivor
story dissolved in my thirties,
my body dizzy, trembling,
a new disease scratching
at frayed nerves within
my head. Chaos called for focus
upon the art of living, even
as my world spun
fast and faster.
When a third disease took
root, the humility of losing
another organ gave way
to the painful art of healing.
But I was ready for the latest
blow, had braced myself
when the heat and weight
of the virus descended,
shuttered my home
first among my neighbors,
bringing fear that each labored
breath might be my last.
As this long tail storms, a trail
of wreckage left within me,
I pick up my pen
and stop waiting
for my long recovery.

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