A mattress of marshmallows
and dead leaves.
The friends who know this night-side
hand over hand
send the best gifts:
a fifty dollar bill for C.,
a weird array of magazines,
sour cream cake,
a voicemail with heft.
I am terrified but I can’t see it yet.
I just know the ICU loves me,
so I build a cacoon there
of tubes, needles, beeps, pills—
and a hoard of lizard thoughts,
survival thoughts: camouflage and calm.
In the MRI, the same
of an airplane door.
Air pushes over me—but
under the storm
unbreathing in the calm.
The best-praised vein takes the best needle.
Best drugs for unremembering
the pre-op head positioning.
Best doubled gloves. Best attitude for luck.
Best scalpels for cutting
s-curves over the burr-hole
for the best post-op hair cuts.
Just testing for response.
Follow my fingers.
Squeeze my fingers. Lift your leg.
How many fingers here,
here, here, now, and now.
In future MRIs, the scarring will be like
an aerial shot of a city
where a block of houses are burned out.
Slippery brain, slippery heart,
despite the barriers of blood-brain, ribs, and sheaths of muscle.
They’re slipshod. The heart
a hoof battering the mud. The brain
a mussel in the sand.
We keep calling it an echo,
The saline into the IV into the heart
has shown us no vegetation,
but has shown us a patent foramen ovale—
a jellyfish tentacle—
a back transfer between atria of blood, something
you should not look up,
to take the doctor's word for.
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