Wednesday, May 5, 2021



They put a call out to surgery

When they don’t know what else to do,

When they’ve run out of ideas,

Exhausted all the tests.

Do something, they plead,

There has to be something you can offer.

Sure, I say, I can do lots of things:

Cut, lance, incise, debulk, eviscerate.

I have scalpels and staplers and sutures.

I’m well trained and highly degreed,

Have studied the literature, the relevant readings.

The things I can do I’ve done plenty of times.

But what are we going to call this?

What’s the diagnosis?

It has to have a name

In order to get fixed.

It’s not enough to say she hurts.

It’s not enough to notice she’s distracted

By small men in blue shirts,

That she traces words in marbled counters

When she thinks no one is looking,

That she’s afraid of being under water,

Alone, in a place absent of all sound

Except for the pounding of her own pulse.

It’s not enough to rue the way

She doesn’t laugh at all my clever jokes,

That she insists on eating

When I only have time for a drink.

It’s not enough, I say.

I see her over there

Raking her hands through her hair,

Mistaking shadows for ghosts.

I know I can help.

But first I need a diagnostic code.

I can patch the hole in her heart

Or attach prosthetics to fill

The voids of her missing parts.

With this sharp knife, this bright light, I will

Excise the rotten, the festering, the fluctuant.

But I’ve only been trained 

To manage the known,

The things that have been named.



Thera said...

Beautifully written

Oldfoolrn said...

Too bad Egas Moniz didn't read your wise words!