Red & Reeling with the Journey
Three nights after the full moon passed
its white sleeve through the bars of my window,
I feel the first cramp in my belly. No, lower.
I catch the scent of blood. An old haunt returning.
Something I’d thought lost with the fever,
boiled to sediment & brushed away,
revisits the womb long empty. At dawn,
I’m forced to call the night nurse in, her eyes
still fixed with the caul of sleeping while charged
to duty. My tongue lolls, my lips unmoving.
I must point instead to the garnet blemish
stark against the bleached nightshirt.
Fetching whitecoats, she forms an assembly,
bends over the chart, scratches orders
for another vial of blood, more iron sulfate,
a mystic to palpate, question, & inspect.
I am resigned beneath their smiles, their wagging
heads, if not rejoicing. I worry for the loss,
the new-merged cells of donor & self,
the strength I had been gaining.
Transformation, Definitive Notes from a Learnèd Hand
The action of changing in form, a metamorphosis.
~ In the patient, there are two—
the coming on of sickness
the commencement of healing
~ Often the reversal is minute,
more than microscopic
over weeks or months
~ Often the patient loses patience
Another variation, a complete conversion of character.
~ There may be wailing, lashing out,
teeth bared, the bite aggressive
~ There may be silence
An entity transcended in accordance with a set of rules.
~ The governance remains mysterious,
a formula of poke & prod, slice & stitch
a drawing out, a pouring in of fluids
~ The prescription modified on a suspicion,
a curtain-shrouded secret
The genetic alteration of a cell, introduction of donor DNA.
~ This the splice & graft by absorption—
layer in the healthy on the lethal
stand by, wait
hovering is useless
Offered Passage, Offered Healing
When the mystic arrives to note my crimes,
she begins by clearing my throat of the threads
I swallowed to make a muting nest.
She hovers bedside, a levitating force
chanting her questions in loops & chains.
What have you done? What have you done?
Do you want to be released? Do you want
to be relieved? Do you want? She oil-anoints
my jaw; she cradles & she coaxes.
I cry out that I refused the gifts once offered
by the woman I called mother by mistake,
her home-grown meals & hand-sewn gowns.
I left three hearts behind heavy & scarred
when I learned which words bore the sharpest
edges, which could be both missive & missile.
In the testing time, I failed to conquer forgiveness,
my memory of the betrayal a sour fruit
I cultivated for a yearly feast. It grew & grew.
The mystic bows her head to transcribe, claims
purging holds the power of transcendence.
We are both waiting for the deepest, darkest.
I, Who have been Pressed and Prettied
There is news.
I have walked the requisite number of steps
unaided. No line, no bead, no sweat
arose at my brow or lip. No stutter or sway
betrayed my hours of practice.
I have lifted my arms, my legs, dressed
myself in a light blouse, a pair of pants,
looking fairly human, if my hair
would grow back from the shear's hack.
I confess my feet resist the shoes, prefer
the comfort of skin meeting floor,
but the whitecoats frown, so I force
my toes, the arch, the heel to fit.
On my inch-thick chart, I spy the day nurse
noting the results. I deduce the numbers
for the blood's weight & core body temp
by the fact that I've passed this other test.
Still, the whitecoats warn, to be complete
I must give in to speech, must reveal
the name & numbers of the woman
to whom I will be released. I delay.
Will you send on your advice? I trust.