The Shadows of the Body

My father came home
With a stack of X-ray films.
He went into his office and put them
Up, one-by-one,
In front of the light.
I sat behind,
Unnecessary,
And watched as the light formed
Bones and stomachs and necks.
Puzzle pieces glowing.
He called me over,
Look at this
Kid
He swallowed a coin.
See?
And there I saw a shekel –
Small circular shadow in the light.
But you wouldn’t know the currency
From the image.
I gaped as I imagined,
Which of my classmates was this?
My world was confined to my kindergarten.
If anything happened,
It must have been there.
A war, a holiday, a storm,
Confined to my nap-room.

Last week my father sat in his office,
In front of the computer screen
Glowing with bones and stomachs and necks.
He called me down to see,
Look at this
Woman
She swallowed a butter knife.
See?
And there I saw, with clear-cut precision,
The long shadow in the light.
But you wouldn’t know her reasons
From the image.
I gaped as I imagined
What that must have felt like.
What thoughts led her to this,
What fears.
A war, a holiday, a storm,
Confined to her mind.

/michal

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We Search the Horizon

A painting with a quotation from the beautiful mind Dr. Rita Charon (specifically, her book Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness)

We search the horizon … seeking ways to recognize ourselves and those around us, yearning to place ourselves within space and time (and infinity), dramatizing our stuborn beliefs that life means something and that we ourselves matter.

Rita Charon Painting

/michal

Hemophilia

a medical condition
where blood clot formation is reduced, resulting in:
a tendency to bleed after minor trauma

minor trauma

I wonder if the silence between us
is shared or
plastered onto our collective togetherness
like a sharp wallpaper that
seems to only give you paper cuts

that won’t stop bleeding.

Is it possible to stop remembering the hurt, already?
Stop bleeding, already.

Dizzy. Hypovolemic shock
Already.

/michal

Finding Softness

The skin on her hands peeled in small flakes, hesitant to fall.
Amongst the flakes were small wounds, spots of dried blood.
In the few spots missing both flakes and wounds, the skin was pink.

I held this hand in mine.
I held this skin to mine.

I filled my palm with hand cream, circling
her knuckles and the flakes
disappeared.

She closed her eyes and smiled.

/michal

I Almost Said (It’s okay to cry.)

The visitor’s chair had sheets on it
So I sat down on her walker.
I asked what I always ask first (How is your day going?)
She said what she always says first (It’s okay)
Then she added (But my sister didn’t show up. She was supposed to
visit me.)
I try to make her feel better (I’m sorry. She’ll visit soon?
Maybe one of your other siblings can visit too?)

The woman in front of me burst into tears on the hospital bed.
(She’s the only one that visits me.)
She wiped the tears with her hand still underneath her sheet.
I shift closer. I am sitting on her bed. She is sobbing with her mouth open.
Her tears fill the bags beneath her eyes.
I bring her a tissue and the skin sags with each dabbing.

The IV tube blocks her hand from mine (It hurts; they just put it in a few minutes ago.
The nurse had bad fingers.)
I remain seated without much to say. ( )
Doctors walk by.

/michal

Abdomen was Unremarkable

I am tumbling through my internal organs
Looking for a sweet
spot
soft
enough to cushion my own punches
from within.

I bounce from wall to wall and from tissue to t-
-issue
Unable to internalize my own self
Unable to integrate into my own being
Smoothly enough that I might feel whole,
Quickly enough that I might not get lost
In dissolution.

/michal