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Routine Operation

by Cat Enos

Oncology Center: Patient Information

Name: Ozzymandius.
Age: 907.
Sex: Only after lab results.
Pre-existing conditions: Oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and motley other molecules.
Age of first sexual encounter: You make it sound so exotic.
Health Insurance: My witch queen told me I’d live to 1,103.

Don’t mind me. I know it’s here, I know it, I know it...

Reason for visit (Please describe in detail):

My nails crack longitudinally.
I grow fangs where teeth should be.
There is an interstitial stitch
on the hull of my heart;
arteries where my tongue deserted.
I speak of blood, and I breathe it,
and you think you know of death?

You think you are Van Gogh?
Can you hear my pigments?
The blue crossed with red into purple
like a child’s first failure.
Here there be wires! There is
no map, and each slice
of the silver-toothed scalpel
spurs sparks among me,
bolts of mortality.


Tick of the clock, I turn in the sheet.
A dour look of the milk-white face
to me, the guinea pig who tapped the trap door.

“Your flippancy, Ms. Sídhe,
will not win you any admirers.
We asked for honesty, not whimsy.”

Oh, of the joke not taken!
The clinical titter, a well-educated cow
who thinks she swallowed the universe
the first day she held a cannula.

It’s been years since you licked the textbook.
Perhaps you studied at Bologna,
pried apart wax with your prissy fingers
and scrubbed graves from your nails at dawn.
As it were you’re a husk now,
plucking tubers from the tumescence of an old man
when he loses the capacity to pee.

Oh doctor, you are no magic-maker
as I, like Prufrock, lie etherized upon a table.
The taking of tea at ten,
games of croquet in the heat-dull dusk
do not vest you with the holy fire
to cauterize the valley of dark.

“This is a routine operation. Good prognosis.
Even with that sour mouth of yours.”

Modest murderess! Don’t lie so soon.
Doctors kill because they know not what life is.
The great joke, the Hippocratic oath.

I know that my clock has shown its hand.
I will lie in my bed and watch the sun sink,
swallow great gales of ruddy air.
And in the warm still-soft bakery breath
of morning, I will exhale a last ssssss
and the poems ruminating in my marrow
will shoot up among the stars.

The sweetly creeping black cars
will bear my body away to the place
where people go to hide their dead.
But who will wail for me?
Certainly not the doctor.

I will watch the nightingale
weeping softly amongst the dying trees
of a dying place where the dead await.
Her wings like brushstrokes,
her eyes like the wind.
They will know my name there.
They’ll have it on the list.

Questo è per l’amore che ho perso,
l’amore che ho perso,
l’amore che ha perso me anche.

This is for the love I’ve lost,
The love I’ve lost,
The love that has also lost me.

Copyright © 2010 by Cat Enos

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