He woke to familiar surroundings
This same bed, at the usual time
In the stygian hour before dawn
A quick confirmation of name and age
Date of birth, identifying sets of digits
Making sure the numbers match
Then to the bathroom
To wash his hands
He washed his feet, his neck
His back and his face
His whole body glistened
Half wet, naked in jaundiced light.
Before dressing he locked eyes
With the intractable apparition
Holding his gaze in the mirror,
That enigmatic innermost onion peel
Who never looked upon anyone else
And by no other eyes was ever seen
And, once again, he accepted the fact
That this dead-eyed avatar
Of the real thing
Looking right through him
And back again
Would, for another day, have to serve as himself.
Well, that was fun
But now everything's settled.
This moment of truth would pass.
A long day of cases waited
In the theater of operations
Wounds to tend to
Holes to fix
Absences to fill
Abscesses to lance
Bad news to bear
One thing at a time
He donned a gown
And tied on his mask
Sheathed his hands in latex gloves
Slashed the final “x” in the last box
Of the surgical safety checklist.
Are we all still alive?
Do we agree to pretend to understand
The mystical glyphs written in this book of collective life?
The antibiotics were given
A tincture of illusion
Scented our tea
Everyone had a “name” and a “place”
Some even came with “purpose”
Either received or seized.
We simply ask for focus
Stop what you’re doing and listen
This is a team effort
It takes a village
Everyone was in agreement
We could now safely begin
Knife please, the surgeon whispered
Into the original silence
Aching at the core of the mirror