Jennie Chantal Duguay Literature Poetry

Learning How to Be Sick

Jennie Chantal Duguay


The crows have their routine,
I have mine.

For five hundred days
they cross the path of my body.

Horizontal in bed I watch
dusk drape a thousand black wings
in threads of gold or silver.

How high or low they fly,
how playful or solemn,
the volume of their company
all depends
on something
I’ll never understand.

My time in this house—
not getting better
but learning how to be sick
and alive—
also depends.

Precipitation. Mood. Season.
Atmospheric pressure. Community.
Something in the blood.

Nature is all instinct
and routine.
It’s what tells living creatures how to survive
another day.

I feel the pitch and sway
of this body.
The rise and fall of pain.
The gravity of a life so dependent
on order
and impulse.

Will I ever understand
their nature. Is it meant to be
a message. Not, if we can do it so can you but rather
you are also a bird.


Jennie Chantal Duguay is a disabled queer femme and disability justice organizer. Her poetry and creative non-fiction have appeared in GUTS, CV2, Hematopoiesis, The Capilano Review, Monstering, and The Peak magazine. She lives on unceded Coast Salish territories in Vancouver, Canada.

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