The carnies carried me thus far round the state
hustling the rural shows with tests of strength,
and aim, the bejeweled and ropey rides loaded
on custom pan-techs. I was caught up in their wheeling
arcs, the sighing hydraulic rams, the fairy lights
and grease. “Just not bred to it, I guess,” I’d said
when they bought me in.
I came to in the ward
with the surgeon testing sutures on my hand.
He talks to himself, makes notes. Young,
neat, exact; he thinks he’s seen me before.
I roll over and crush the line, so the nurse comes in,
bustles about — “finding veins is hardly a hobby here”
she quips. “I was tuning pianos before this,” I say,
and she affects an interest, “before that I was in a band.”
In the afternoon a cardiac arrest, the dinner trolley,
the chaplain mumbles with his newfound amputee,
in the light through the blinds. In the morning
the florist’s toll of cut stems, visitors without end.
First published in Snorkel #9, April 2009.