Laura Kolbe is a doctor and medical ethicist at New York–Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She studied English and American literature at Harvard and the University of Cambridge. Her work has been anthologized in A World Out of Reach. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner Andrew and their dog Bonnie.
The title Little Pharma is both a doppelgänger and a cri de coeur: as the poet’s dreamlike double, the character Little Pharma navigates the murky channels of the hospital and clinic, the borderlands of the living and the dead, and the journey from novice to healer. At the same time, the poems plead for a return to a littler pharma, a space for stolen intimacy and momentary quiet amid the impersonal and engulfing chill that floods the anatomical theater and the corridors of illness. Little Pharma is a Dantean journey from the depths of an institution, and of a pervading personal dread, to a renewed celebration of human contact, the body, and the giddy, terrifying excitement of ongoing life.
Excerpt from “Intensive Care”
Doctor, I don my day-face
like a net of cathodes, drained
of all irruption, non-particular.
Whose mask and sign
is Sun. Enter this sickroom
bugged with surging pentecosts of light,
the green tracings
of the representative heart.
Permit now its miraculous whim.