Poet Amanda Gorman wrote this poem about her illness, which stood the test of time

Our second-to-last second Poet Laureate was Amanda Gorman, who left us when her battle with breast cancer ended over a year ago. Yet the impact of her words, whose impact is just beginning to be felt, remains widely felt, and is likely to be for years to come. In January 2017, in her last public appearance before her death, Gorman helped write the first poem in the inaugural program, “Angel Is a Young Woman.” Here it is.

“Angel is a young woman”

The vest I feel the most

in a windbreaker and work boots

and steel glasses,

a little crazed and wet-eyed,

howling my cartoon dog’s name in the bedroom air

after missing you both while unloading my car

on a day’s errand.

Or my foot.

I have had two such days this year.

On the front of the mother teapot,

in an envelope,

a surgical appointment for

myfirst surgery ever,

along with two

double amniotic patches,

a surgical tool

for the wound,

a hub cap

for my first catheterization.

Don’t think,

don’t say,

don’t sleep

on the inside of the now-folded-up sheet

or the covers on the ground,

not knowing what to do with it, or with the rest of me.

And you, the windbreaker.

The way you whisper in my ear,

feeling again for each tender bone,

one by one, remind me

this is how it’s going to go.

And this is how it is now,


Katherine Long

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