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.