“Yes.” The Colonel smiled and leaned over to look at her from his top bunk. “You would. Big white whale is a metaphor for everything. You live for pretentious metaphors.”
She puts on the protective gown for this one,
sky-blue, crepe paper-like. She asks again
for me to verify name, date of birth,
checking what I say against the information
on the small plastic bag she shows to me
before hanging it upside down, its contents
impossibly clear, benign looking
as water coursing the clearest bore—
umbilical-like that almost invisible line.
The trees outside the tall window appear
still full with summer, crows’ flight—more
like drunken tumbling—something to see
while I agree that yes, yes, this is me.
The poplars outside this place an old stand,
their trunks rise, slender nudes that sway in a rush
of wind and sun. At the tree’s edge, someone
has hung feeders to distract us from ourselves,
and so I don’t look at her when she says
to the screen of her computer that my blood
numbers are good, better, in fact, than last
time. Hour after hour, we watch birds circle
the plastic cylinders of sunflower seed,
cling to the caged cakes of suet swinging
from tall hooked poles—not unlike ours, I like
to think, their source of flight gravity-measured—
a given, too—and we are all radiant with it.
The surgery was a flash
fire in the yard, folks
with rakes and hoses, their
faces hot with it.
This place is the slow
burn they watch, if they do,
at a safer distance, as
they might a neighbor’s field
smoldering, glad it’s
not their own, their concern
now the direction of
the wind, a chance of rain.