KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Prose Poem: 358 words

In the Minute Clinic at the CVS

by Lin Nelson Benedek

We walked down State Street in the snow and rode up the escalators to the row of plastic chairs. Jeremy, the nurse practitioner, called my name and asked where I was from. California, I said. He told me he was working on his doctorate, just recently returned from Ghana, where he and a team trained medical staff to treat patients in their towns and villages. I said, My poetry professor is from Ghana—Kwame Dawes—and Jeremy said, Kwame means born on Saturday. He said he himself was born on Saturday so that would be his name, too, and here it was, a Saturday. So you write poetry, he said, and I showed him the link to cover art of wild horses painted by my mom’s hero, Millard Sheets. Jeremy said when he was living in Vermont an old street poet taught him about cadence. He yawned and told me his kids, three and five, were both down with the flu and puking all night. It wasn’t his weekend but he and his ex were still best friends and he wanted to help her out because she was going through some tough stuff. He asked what brought me to the clinic and I said something was troubling my eyes. As he took my vitals, I said, Sometimes I have white coat hypertension. Jeremy put the cuff on my arm and I pictured myself floating on my back in the ocean back home, and he began to recite a poem: And when I come to the garden ground.... A tree beside the wall stands bare.... I end not far from my going forth/ By picking the faded blue/ of the last remaining aster flower/ to carry again to you. How did he manage to deliver a poem with such feeling as he listened to the sounds my heart made? When he was done I said, Oh, that was lovely, and he said, It’s Robert Frost. I asked how my pressure was and he said, Perfect, couldn’t be better. That was a first, I told him, and he said, It’s the poetry cure.

Publisher’s Note: The quotation in italics, beginning “And when I come to the garden ground,” is from a poem by Robert Frost, “A Late Walk,” published in 1915 in his book A Boy’s Will (Henry Holt and Company).

Lin Nelson Benedek
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is a third-generation Californian, a long-time psychotherapist, and the author of two full-length books of poetry published by Kelsay Books/Aldrich Press: I Was Going to Be a Cowgirl (2017) and When a Peacock Speaks to You in a Dream (2018). She holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, and her work has been published in a variety of literary journals.

Poet’s website:

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