“The Hippocratic Oath” by Melissa McKinstry

“A Gentle Lifting” by Sydney McKenna, oil on canvas.

The DNR rests on my desk.
I’ve signed it in my mind
over and over for 21 years,
but only once with a pen
and a witness, and the father
of my son, a child
tangled in a dysfunctional genome
for no particular reason. Every
day since his birth has felt like
a penance, and more recently,
a rebellion against
the doctors who want
to put another hole in him
but don’t want to talk about
his life or ours.
But, this evening
the garden is a rose window,
and I confess uncertainty
in its glow and the exhale
of the canyon.
To practice singing
a big song from a small body
I listen to the goldfinches,
and my son clicks his tongue
in what may be a response.



Melissa McKinstry grew up on small farms outside of Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, learning how things grow and how people take care of each other in small communities. She is currently a student in the MFA poetry program at Pacific University. Her poetry has appeared in The Seattle Review and Quaint Canoe, EcoPoetry Washington, and is forthcoming in the first issue of Heirlock. She works to follow the advice of poet Joe Millar: “Sanctify yourself as a poet. Sit down and write every day.”

2 thoughts on ““The Hippocratic Oath” by Melissa McKinstry

  1. Pingback: Contributors Summer 2019 | Rkvry Quarterly Literary Journal

Comments are closed.