The gods line up
to kiss my left breast.
Divine dimples appear
as I raise my left arm.
A star appears
on my windshield, too,
when a wayward stone
hits me on the expressway,
loud as a gun’s report.
I duck under glass.
I’m wounded again.
Asterisk marks the spot.
I imagine a magical
springing out of the ground
and into my chest.
Instead I get
a large red syringe
injected so slowly.
My family is grateful
that my car is drivable
that I will drive it.
I reassure them
I can still see the road.
Another small stone
and I could be shattered.
Sometimes I ask my patient, Can you smell it?
But of course she can’t. Necrosis happens slowly,
a little more each day. There’s time to adjust.
My birthday was weeks ago. The flowers are dead.
A clear, square vase sits here on the kitchen table,
its decay, vegetable. I am no stranger to the foul.
When I examine a blackened toe, I’m always
over-gentle, though the nerves are dead,
as are the muscle, the bone, the fascia.
Look how delicate this is: a burgundy rose, rimmed
with curls of black. When I touch it, I hear
the sound of tissue paper crinkled around a gift.
I enjoy the flowers, even in death.
My patient is embarrassed by her fetid,
dying appendage. A toe is lost, then
half a foot, then a leg below the knee.
She lies in her hospital bed, so pale she blends
into the bleached sheets. Still she is able
to retract her soul from her partially dead
body. I follow her gaze out the hospital window.
On clear days, I see all the way to the bay.
Originally published in Hospital Drive
The clinic door clicks behind me–
yes, it’s still unlocked.
The smell of fresh water
breathes me to the open window–
where I let down my handmade rope–
made of bandages knotted together,
& lower myself to the bank
where the reeds grow in the mud.
A reed raft and a reed flute–
both useful in their hollowness.
I sink my toes in the silt,
wade into the black water.
Craft and current carry me.
The less I struggle,
the more the river takes me
where I want to go.