Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Heavy. Period. – We Breathe Together

Cheryl L. Kaplan Zachariah
Chicago, Illinois, USA


Poet’s statement: These poems are clearly very personal to me, as I wrote each of them after separate miscarriages. I have since had two more, which I have not yet been able to write about. Although “infertility” is categorized as a disease according to the World Health Organization and many physicians, it is still unspoken in almost all circles, support groups are scarce, and art has become one of my only outlets for working through the grieving process. I hope that they may shed light in a dark place and offer comfort to others who are silently mourning.


Heavy. Period.













We breathe together
His breath on my back
This pain it can’t last
Our arms intertwined
Our troubles combined


We breathe together
We grieve together
We dream together

Lying still in the night
Feign sleep and all right
Our hearts untied
Our hope subsides


We breathe together
We bereave together
We believe together

Gentle taps and bare kisses
Be-longing caresses
Our wishes deferred
Possibility interred


We breathe together
We think together
We beat together

Pull awake ‘fore sun rises
Emptiness surmises
Good mornings agreed
Half smiles achieved


We breathe together
We hold together
We’re bold together

Look beyond tired lashes
Patience till time passes
Our strength weak
Resolves takes a peek

We breathe together
We team together
Full steam together



CHERYL L. KAPLAN ZACHARIAH, MFA, is a freelance writer, director, and theater arts integration specialist. She is an adjunct faculty member at San Jacinto College, a PhD student in disability and performance at the University of Illinois Chicago, and professional theater artist. She was the former director of Theater Outreach and Education at the University of Texas Medical Branch where she created plays and educational modules, utilizing theater to illuminate issues within the medical humanities. She has worked with a variety of professional theaters and community-based organizations. She received the EPA Clean Air Excellence Award for the Ozone Theater program and the Linn Wright Special Recognition Award from the American Alliance for Theater and Education for the uniqueness and efficacy of her programs in the community.


Highlighted in Frontispiece Fall 2012 – Volume 4, Issue 4
Fall 2012  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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