DO NOT RESUSCITATE by Kristian Anfinn Tonnessen

Illustration by Sophie Levy

Illustration by Sophie Levy

Her middle name was Theresa.
And it’s that I never knew
that strikes me, because I’ve always wanted to name
a daughter Theresa.
Waxy is not quite the right word
for her body. The cold
is more disturbing than the texture,
when yesterday, her hands were so hot.

For the third time, I am left alone
at the house, with the aides, and her,
thanking god not for mercies
but just that no one is talking
about anything but disposing of medicines,
how many years they spent
working for Catholic Home Services.

Her middle name was Theresa,
and for all the talk of gifts,
blessings, and the mole on her brow
that allegedly looks like a heart,
she was a closed and private woman
who suffered, and caused suffering
like the rest of us. She died
with two nicotine patches on her arm,
in her sleep.

Talk of angels,
we’re only angels in what we do,
in the secrets we keep from one another
for forty years,
because there’s nothing else to do, no conclusion to be reached.
Theresa, after all, means reaper,
and the harvest of our pain
is long in reaping, golden and damp,
drying in the sun, suffering like wheat.

Kristian Anfinn Tonnessen is a senior in Columbia College majoring in creative writing and Russian Literature and Culture. He hopes to spend the next two years working as an English teacher through Teach for America, then go on to graduate school to study Russian Literature, god knows where. This is his third poem published in Quarto, and eighth overall. Facebook