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The Things We Can Name

When I was a paramedic, there was
a word for every body part,
every sign and every symptom.
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I was eighteen and I knew them all:
myocardial infarction
subdural hematoma
basal cell carcinoma
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Lots of medics worked by sight:
blood and guts and opened skin,
the swirl of the blood pressure dial.
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To me, everything made a sound:
lub-dub of opening heart-valves
splinter-crack of young white bones
thump-thump whoosh of a femoral artery.
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Twenty years later, and I am the patient.
Dropped off at the clinic by a man who is
no longer lover, husband, or ex. He waits
at a coffee shop, while I lay on the table.
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I still do everything by sound.
The rustle-rustle of this paper vest,
the smooth brush of her fingers around my breast,
the reassuring rumble of her voice.
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Great and grateful sound the same
through the ears of a silver stethoscope.
I lift myself from the table,
find my way to the door by feel.
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The man who isn’t pulls around the corner,
stops and waits.
It’s a long walk to the car and my
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heart is trying to tell me something.
It sounds a little like
a valve closing, a door opening.
It sounds a little like
lub.

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About This Poem: Today’s poem arose from finding a link to the poem, “The Name of a Fish,” which I instantly fell in love with. And, as usual, I just ran with it.

About Poem-A-Day: For the month of April (National Poetry Month), I’ve signed on to write a poem-a-day (eeks!). To make it slightly easier on myself, my rules are that I have to write each poem in fifteen minutes or less, and that I have to post it here on the blog as soon as I’m done. No edits. Just rough. Raw. Right out of the gate. (Of course, if you’re playing along, I hope you’ll post a link to your poem in the comments here — mainly because I’m selfish and I want to read them!)

See all my Poem-A-Day poems here.

You can also read some amazing poems-a-day over at Sage Cohen’s blog.

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