Kathryn Gahl

Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category


In Anxiety, Depression, Healthcare, Maternal Mental Illness, Parenting, Uncategorized, Work-Family Conflict on January 26, 2016 at 4:44 pm

in a basketball game

players work hard to

watch the moving screen 

and in the

game of life the screen works too

as we watch the fecund mother-to-be


the precious round ball of life in her belly

we oogle and shower and grin at the hunky-doryness


and when the ball hits the real world

the bouncing





shows us what miracle looks like

and oh oh oh

we remember the miracle


and then whoa

we forget the pressure to perform

we fail to screen the mother

for overwhelmingness

fastidiousness anxiety depression

a rim of pain

now known as maternal mental illness



we expect her to work full-time

excel at her job

breastfeed till the cows came home

 cook and clean

and oh take care of the Daddy too

he has needs dontcha know

and she keeps up


bounce passing

jump shooting

bypassing sleep (can’t sleep anyway)

a hook shot here

a free throw there

though nothing’s free


because maternal leave costs money dontcha know

how can you expect to stay home

and be a momma for a year or two

do nothing but raise a child

and get some sleep and

be lovin’

on the baby’s father

when there’s other work to do


and that’s why she runs laps

keeps up

because that’s what mothers do

dontcha know

until they don’t

until they go crazy



Bed Bugs

In Healthcare, Kathryn on March 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

One morning at a writer’s colony, I awaken to bed bug bites. I count the red wheals on my legs, scratch, and then dress. There are no phones here (great for writing) so I cannot call anyone to register my dismay. I head down to the colony office, noting blue sky and green grass and soft summer wind. I am happy to be here, but bed bugs? The secretary at the office feels terrible and explains that the sheets were put on at the end of last season. She apologizes and promises to send in a housekeeper to change the sheets. Then she shrugs, we’re in the mountains. Bed bugs are nothing. Watch out for the moose. I laugh. I relax. I thank her.

When the housekeeper changes the sheets, I thank her, too. Yet that night, I think of the bed bugs. Wistfully. This is odd, ridiculous, and I puzzle over feeling a vague longing. The next morning, after a fine night’s sleep between freshly starched and ironed sheets, I wonder: could this longing be because, at night, no one nibbles? Do I miss the small advances, love in the dark playing past midnight? I think about those bed bugs. By now, they must be through the washing machine and out the hose of soapy water, splashed unto river stones or dog-paddling across a stream. I can almost hear them calling. We meant no harm, they seem to say. We were just playing and got carried away.

I squint into the bright sunlight. I am awake yet I am dreaming. I am dreaming of you with me in the morning, how I tingle, how your aliveness can touch me.

Mind in the Spine

In Healthcare, Weighing In on February 28, 2012 at 3:45 am

When was the last time I found my mind in the spine? Or perhaps I should ask : when was the last time I placed my  mind in the spine. I don’t do it, I admit, until I go to  yoga. There, I challenge myself to find my mind. At the beginning of class, I have no mind at all to connect mind with behind.

Until the instructor Bruce Van Dyke begins his intonation. He has the voice of a sleepy baritone: Put your mind in the spine. Breathe. Let the body soften. Release. Renew. Refresh. Magical bones that cradle my spinal cord do as instructed. They open and realign. They dance with muscles that bend and stretch and twist.I am a cat being lazy in the universe. I am a baby without cares. I roll and release. I find peace.

Breathe, Mr. Van Dyke says. Feel that vital force enter you. I breathe. I bend. Pretty soon my head is lower than my heart. Yoga calls it the pose of a child; it is truly the fetal position, a water lily floating in warm water. Feel the body soften, Mr. Van Dyke says. I feel. My body succumbs. I yield. Pretty soon I stretch farther, I hold longer. My body lightens and if this keeps up, I am sure I shall fly, weightless and exuberant.

Mr. Van Dyke demonstrates more movements. He moves like a cobra. He moves like a swan. Pretty soon, he is a standing tree, perfectly balanced. He raises his arms, they are the limbs of his tree. When a good wind comes along, he will fly.

I move like a cobra. I move like a swan. My head is lower than my heart. The vital force courses through my blood vessels. I am lightheaded and giddy. And I think, I too, shall fly.


In Healthcare, Short Stories on February 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Many thanks to everyone at the Wisconsin Academy Review for sponsoring a statewide fiction contest. My story MILES recently placed third. The story  appears in WISCONSIN PEOPLE & IDEAS, Winter 2012. It is available on newstands now and also on-line. http://www.wisconsinacademy.org/magazine/miles

Researchers Report

In Healthcare, Postcard Poem on February 18, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Researchers report

that a man can detect

the smell of tears.

A chemical in tears

causes levels of testosterone

to drop.

There you have it.

Please cry responsibly.