Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities


Donna Pucciani
Wheaton, Illinois, United States

You’ve got to walk that lonesome valley . . .

—American Folk Song

Photo by Donna Pucciani

We learn to be alone
for months when microscopic
murder floats in the air
like so much smoke.

We learn to fear
the passing stranger
whose only misdeed
is walking two large dogs
on our shared sidewalk,
their communal breath
exploding in lethal stardust.

We learn to cross the street.
Some days when remembered
happiness hangs overhead
like suspended sunshine,
we may even wave.

Winter is one step ahead,
spelling dread after a golden fall
drifts into the silver arms
of hoarfrost.

Ice underfoot slides us closer
to the rotting mouth of death
on a moonless night, alone.

Well, nobody else can walk it for you.
You’ve got to walk it by yourself.

DONNA PUCCIANI, a Chicago-based writer, has published poetry worldwide in Poetry Salzburg, ParisLitUp, Meniscus, Shi Chao Poetry, Journal of Italian Translation, and Stand. Her work has been translated into Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and German. She has been nominated numerous times for the Pushcart Prize and has won awards from the Illinois Arts Council, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Poetry on the Lake, and other organizations. Her seventh and most recent book of poems is Edges.

Winter 2021



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