Issue 131, Summer 1994
Syllables shaped around the darkening day’s
contours. Next to armchairs, on desks, lamps
were switched on. Tires hissed softly on the damp
tar. In my room, a flute concerto played.
Slate roofs glistened in the rain’s thin glaze.
I peered out from a cave like a warm bear.
Hall lights flicked on as someone climbed the stairs
across the street, blinked out: a key, a phrase
turned in a lock, and something flew open.
I watched a young man at his window write
at a plank table, one pooled halogen
light on his book, dim shelves behind him, night
falling fraternal on the flux between
the odd and even numbers of the street.
I woke up, and the surgeon said, “You’re cured.”
Strapped to the gurney, in the cotton gown
and pants I was wearing when they slid me down
onto the table, made new straps secure
while I stared at the hydra-headed OR
lamp, I took in the tall, confident, brown-
skinned man, and the ache I couldn’t quite call pain
from where my right breast wasn’t anymore
to my armpit. A not-yet-talking head,
I bit dry lips. What else could he have said?
And then my love was there in a hospital coat;
then my old love, still young and very scared.
Then I, alone, graphed clock-hands’ asymptote
to noon, when I would be wheeled back upstairs.