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Multiple Sclerosis Poems by Mary Pettigrew

  • Published: 2013-06-14 (Revised/Updated 2016-06-12) : Author: Mary Pettigrew
  • Synopsis: Four original poems written by Mary P. Pettigrew relating to living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Main Document

Four original poems written by Mary P. Pettigrew relating to living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Mary Pettigrew is a poet/writer living with MS for 12 years.

She writes about all sorts of things, but quite a bit of her poetry is disability related. The National MS Society magazine, "MOMENTUM" recently interviewed her for an article about "writing as therapy" and included one of her poems in an issue.


Here I sit
in a chair made of wood -
wooden legs, I can sit upon
and rise up from whenever I want to.
Surrounded by others
who also sit
in chairs like mine, made of wood -
with wooden legs.
The others sit in chairs with steel wheels
instead of wooden legs.
With motorized knobs directing where they go.
The one's who sit in wheels
have legs, and feet of their own - like mine.
Their legs used to be like mine -
functional...sometime ago.
Now, their legs are problematic - useless.
Legs which feel like wood,
wet noodles, fire, painful needles, atrophied and stiff...
yet, here they sit - with me
in chairs of different means, but of similar purpose.
Together, we gather in our chairs and we sit,
talk, smile, nod and understand
for the same reason, sharing this disease
together, members of this exclusive club
no one has applied for.

An original work by Mary P. Pettigrew


This brain, my brain
Reveals an unwanted, uninvited stain
Stealthy invaders placed an ugly mark
Though visually unseen, it's there...a permanent scar.

A tattoo, if you will
An indelible marking, perplexing until
Courageous, yet daunting intervention begins
Presenting theoretical ideas, invasive needles and pins.

The monster's mastery takes hold, you see...
Internally stalking, exploring ways to manipulate me
Wicked, determined to strike and knock me down
A bully in hiding, deploying trickery like a devious clown.

This brain, my brain
With this extraordinary, devastating stain
Brings clarity, unexpected strength, possibility
Now, determined, striving to re-define my disability.

An original work by Mary P. Pettigrew


Resonating, familiar routine without
hesitation - the machine calls out.
Waves unseen yet absorbing me, calculating -
almost tangible waves are audible
keeping time, tempo, inside this cylinder.
Frenetic knock-a-bout increasing, growing louder
in my body, imagination.
Anxiety, rapid heartbeat, quick in breath - BREATHE,
focus, relax, BREATHE...
Eyes wide shut -

Thump, thump, thump - tic, tic, tic - buzz, buzz, buzz
A rave or a deafening techno concert is
where I am - well, in essence - both in sound and feeling.
Side to side, up and down movements
frantic, all consuming, magnetic in the diagnostic
travels within me, around me...and the machine.
Reluctant to participate, resigning myself to
claustrophobic games of scientific peer pressure,
I blend in...
I have no choice -

Click, click, click - beep, beep, beep - knock, knock, knock
I imagine an image, anxious imagination
spinning, acting out over something beyond
my control in the first place! Traveling annually
with magnets is brief - merely a day-trip, yet mandatory.
Dazzling images reveal a side of me unbecoming, conflicting
with a portrait of exquisite normalcy - visible, outwardly seen by all.
Infuse my color with contrast - enhance, magnify, prove.
And it is proven - according to the magnets, my motionless travels
within this cylinder...
and their intimate pictures of me -

An original work by Mary P. Pettigrew

(a tribute to Annette Funicello)

I didn't exist...not yet
when she smiled -
donning black felt mouse ears
black and white images on
Zenith television sets
viewed globally by millions
in happy homes -
adored - all American
a member of the kiddie club.

I didn't exist... not quite
when she smiled -
donning swimsuits on surfboards
colorful, sunny images in
movie theaters
viewed globally by millions
of happy, hopeful teens -
admired - girl next door
a member of the boomer club.

I met her after school...and Sunday evenings
when I smiled -
entranced with re-runs of black felt mouse ears
and beach blanket fun on a
Sony television set
viewed by me - only me
happy, healthy, hopeful -
forever youthful - timeless
a member of my club now.

I couldn't comprehend MS or her pain
when she smiled
donning leg braces, wheels, or a cane
black and white images in
print - colorful in life
on television sets
viewed by millions
of distraught boomers - mouseketeers
A member of the disabled club.

I exist - I know her well
we all smile for her, with her, because of her
bittersweet death, understanding now -
donning chairs with wheels, braces, canes
black and white, color images embedded
in hearts and minds
embraced by millions
of boomer mouseketeers and
generation X, Y...and others like me...
a fellow member of the MS club - a fellow MSketeer.

An original work (c) by Mary P. Pettigrew

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