I have a spot of poison ivy
on one hand, I notice spread
to other hand. Once, my husband
and I both rushed to doctor, bodies
full of poison ivy. Prescribed
steroids, matching shots
in the butt, and our doctor’s
gardener’s number, we learn
how to avoid leaves of three.

Years ago, I sat in the kitchen
of a chef, watching her dice
and sauté. When I complained
of arthritis creeping into my hands,
she told me she once suffered
the creaks and cramps until she
looked at her hands and commanded
arthritis to stop. Through sheer will
and determination, she refused
her hands to cripple her career goal.

As I write this poem, I look at
one spot of inflammation, then
the other. Stop! I will you to not
spread any further. Ignoring
itches on my scalp, I refuse
to scratch and wonder if it’s that easy,
scrolling through pictures of food
that chef posts, years later, still
able to use her hands when mine
are oozing oils I know will spread,
unwilling to confess how good
it just felt to scratch. Just a little bit.