To a Clogged Nephrostomy Tube


By Marie Landau

Clearly whoever designed you, tube,
knows nothing of the blood

clots that rake from a cancer-
ous bladder. Or they would

have made you wider, made
the part of you that screws

into the father’s middle back
easier to remove—without pliers,

without fumbling to separate you,
sweating while the dying father screams

that his bladder is going to burst. The
syringe and the saline

we used to clear the heart-
dark lumps of tissue—

a godsend, but should have
come at the beginning and not

the end. To watch the radiant red
snake through you, though, and splat

into the pouch at the father’s thin ankle—
the headiest relief, room-spinningest

victory, as the valve coming from
his kidney leaked slow, orange onto the bed. 


Marie Landau is an editor at the University of New Mexico Press and a member of Dirt City Writers, an Albuquerque-based literary collective. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in ditchEunoia ReviewSOFTBLOWRust+Moth, and elsewhere.

Photo credit: Claire Henry

Photo credit: Claire Henry