An Anthology of Poetry and Medicine


by Julie Rosenzweig

The female staffer whose lack of a lab coat is supposed to
Sooth me, bids me disrobe from the waist up and lie
Down on this paper-coated slab. Arms folded across my
Chest like the corpse of a religion not my own, I inspect the curtain that
Carves out from this otherwise aseptic arena, a tomb or womb.
The color scheme that made a hectic headache of the waiting room
Has bled into this curtain, trail of an unstaunched wound.
Are those patterned swirls, flowers abstract enough to evoke
Something else entirely, swelling and sloping, someone's idea of a joke?
With no particular warning he breaches the billowy cloak,
Inserts hands, arranges, rearranges, pulls and pokes.
Head turned fastidiously aside, I'm reminded of the births I underwent but didn't see.
C-section or au naturel, how can you tell what's really going on with eyes
Screwed shut, pressure intense but sequestered, across a partition,
You but not you. Could it be helped, that sin of omission?
Don't worry, he says, it's just a benign condition,
But we knew that going in. Like gender, prescanned, preseen.
Tell me something I don’t know. They surprised me once with a
Redhead, telltale trail of sleeper genes,
Slow bleed of the past pooling beneath the skin.
Sleeping, we body forth what slumbered within. 


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