Pilcrow and Dagger Aug/Sept 2015
The twisted tissue loves to turn
inside her back and jump
into the soft jelly between
degenerated L-4 and L-5 discs.
Press, pulse and pound on the nerve root—
what fun to play outside the jelly mold;
to emerge from the bone spurs like a worm
after the rain, smelling of panic and dark earth.
Stop the stiffness before prime time,
hard like Sunday morning bagels on Tuesday.
What is sleep? Face in the pillow,
microwaved rice in a soft blue bag
gives up its loose position before dawn.
Coffee at 2 p.m. so she won’t drive drowsy.
Don’t make her end up like
the young old man in the square
who grips the back of the bench
with his left hand, shifts his weight
to his right foot and grips his
muddy brown cane in his right,
trudging forward at the end of his downtown lunch hour.
Could her attacker’s color be blue
like the waiting room?
Couches, bed rails, blankets and scrubs.
Or white like her nurse’s hair
who dies a year later from ovarian cancer.
The doctor saws and sews the taut skin
up into a clean lip line.
The oozing scar a centipede
searching for a crumb on a moonless night.
The pain is gone, save a shadow.
She still hugs the headboard
when rising to meet her day.