Monica Shah

Issue 15


Sarah tried pills for her pain.
She tried stretching. She
tried yoga. She tried opiates.
She tried forgetting about it.

Pain patches and acupuncture.
Injections and prescriptions.
Opiates and physical therapy.
Heat and compresses. She
tried ignoring it again.

Sarah couldn’t sit. She
couldn’t stand up straight.
She couldn’t lie down
on her back. She was weak.
She had lost muscle tone. She
fainted on the subway. Sarah knew
she was falling apart.

One summer day, Sarah
doesn’t remember exactly when,
she fell. After surgery that September
pain seized hold of her again.
The surgeon said nothing more
could be done, leaving Sarah
to keep searching for other pain
management options.

Sarah tried massages.
She tried steroids. She
tried more narcotics. She
tried meditation. She


Source: “Treating Chronic Pain with Meditation” by Brian Steiner, Apr 1, 2014, The Atlantic

Method: As someone who lives with chronic pain, I was struck by how accurately this article portrayed the frustration of the cyclical efforts of finding some succor. It’s a relentless battle of seeking, hoping and discarding treatments/tools/therapies. I took primarily the first lines of the article to depict this almost ritualistic struggle of a chronic pain patient.

Monica Shah was born in London and grew up in various small towns in the UK, Africa, India and America. Her writing often explores identity, relationships, and culture. Her poetry has appeared in literary magazines including Chaya, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Edison Literary Review, and in the anthology Bolo Bolo!