Susan Cohen

The Woman Who Feels No Fear

Doctors have reported that a brain anomaly left a woman without fear.

She pets scorpions and snarling dogs. Lightning fails
	to torch her nerves. Let the elevator plunge –
		nothing makes her organs lurch.

She cooks with butter, dives into the deep end.
	We envy her – no spear in the heart,
		no hornets in the gut

when her little girl is hours late and sirens shriek.
	She’ll never turn a small dark mole
		into a malignant mountain. Though,

if she lives long, it’s because death is just another bully
	who doesn’t know what to do with her: woman
		immune to wolves outside the tent.

And how she struts onto any stage, life of the party,
	always game, flips off the boss or flirts with him
		in the presence of his wife.

If we met her, we’d gather round, as if she lives
	in a land-locked country and we must tell her
		how it feels to be at sea.

We’d clutch our cocktails and inspect her eyes
	for vacancy, as if she’s less like us than a dog is
		who puddles every time there’s thunder.

Does she look upon the rest of us with mercy
	or do we baffle her – the way we knock on wood,
		our sweaty bargains with gods we half-believe in?

The army is interested in her brain. But as torturer she’d lack
	imagination, not knowing what makes people shiver
		besides the cold. Surely, she must feel the cold.