Sheila Wellehan


A highway system of plastic tubing
runs across the floors of the house.
It’s linked to a huge tank of oxygen

that’s fighting for my mother’s lungs.
I fall asleep on the sofa reading studies
about new drugs and transplants,

I’ve learned enough about oxygen delivery
to work as a nurse.
I grill the pulmonologist every visit

to make sure she’s fighting for my mother’s lungs.
I push my mother to battle for medicine,
specialist appointments, and therapy

until I feel like a boxing coach.
Don’t mess with us, we’re just getting started.
We’re fighting for my mother’s lungs.

I give her traditional Chinese herbs and mushrooms,
slip her steroids prescribed to my dog.
I grasp every straw, practice medicine without a license,

I’m fighting for my mother’s lungs.
I inherited my warring ways from my mother –
she’s my hero, she never quits.

I’m fighting for my mother’s lungs,
fighting for my mother,
until she tells me to stop.

Sheila Wellehan’s poetry is featured in Menacing HedgeRust + MothThimble Literary MagazineTinderbox Poetry JournalWhale Road Review, and many other journals and anthologies. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Visit her online at