Spring 2004

Corie Feiner


Corie Feiner This marks an author's first online publication Corie Feiner (formerly Herman), a current Pushcart Prize nominee, earned her M.F.A. from New York University and is a writer-in-residence in New York City community centers and public schools. A finalist for the 2000 Randall Jarrell and 1998 Sue Saniel Elkind Poetry Prizes, her poetry has appeared in Kalliope, Calyx, Runes, 5 AM, and Phoebe, among other literary journals. She is the author of Radishes into Roses (Linear Arts Press, 1997) and is currently pursuing publication of her poetry memoir, Maw-Maw.

The Examination    Click to hear in real audio

Maw–maw's dropped stomach smelled
of prewar damp wood and something sweet
like jug perfume or hyacinth on unwashed hair.

For years, she had claimed health—
even with three-hundred pounds
on her five-foot frame,
even with the regimen of morning pills
followed by phlegm,
her small congested heart, short breath,
stiff legs, hot joints, metal knees.

Inside, her uterus was surrounded by cells
without plaster wall or prison bar.
Locked gate or thick chain.
Cells dividing fast like angry guards
into her cervix, bladder, bowels.

Her sharp after-sex pains. The shock
of dark-brown blood.

One doctor said, It's the slow kind of cancer.
Another, It's not because of her weight.
Another, It's a matter of months.
Another, Her heart will kill her anyhow. 

My mother, brother, and I sit with her
and her new husband in the cluttered den.
The vertical blinds closed, the central air
turned high, the ceiling fan squeaking
like the swamp crickets outside.

Maw-maw sat in her green recliner
with the damp piss towel across the seat.
Her hands splattered with gold bracelets
and rings, large precious stones shining
with proof she was no longer poor.

They're gonna clean out my garden, she said,
touching her third husband's elderly thigh.
Uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes. Gone.



Hope    Click to hear in real audio

We rename Maw-Maw's husband
of two years, Murray "The Weed-Wacker" Bernstein.

Joke, With a little push-push he'll knock
the tumor right out of you. Wack-wack-wack.

Like the TV commercial, blades cutting
everything clean.



Same Day Surgery Reception    Click to hear in real audio

Patient Loading and Unloading Area

Hot Water Only


If Attendant Is Not Present,
Please Dial: 8790

Thank You

Lilian Kim Live, Ft. Lauderdale
8:34 AM

78 Degrees

Irish Mark Migration,
Famine Ends

Polio's Long Shadow

The Nasdaq Opens

Smoke Compartment Doors

Waiting Room Visitors Please
One at a Time

The Nurse Will Inform You
When You May Visit

Closed Captioning Upon Request

Translation Off



The Biopsy    Click to hear in real audio

We waited for the surgeon to gently
widen Maw-maw's cervix with a series
of smooth rounded rods.
Waited for him to insert
the curet and scrape. Remove
cords of tan tissue.
We waited for the pathologist
to decide. The more
solid its mass, the more severe.


The diagnosis: poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma.
Already spread into cervix. Invaded
blood vessels and lymph nodes.

Like a breaking glass bottle.
Small shards everywhere.
Two years tops if her heart                    
doesn't give out first.
Small sun-dried muscle. Lopsided peach.



Corie Feiner: Poetry
Copyright © 2004 The Cortland Review Issue 26The Cortland Review