As the last restraint clicked on my arms, they tightened
the belts across my chest and waist. A dark figure rose
behind the surgery windows, leaned forward.
Overhead speakers, said: Begin.
Preparing numbness, an attendant sobbed,
I can’t face him. I can’t do it.
Someone flipped a sheet over my head;
pink flowers on light blue cotton against
my nose. A flash of light from the left;
doors opened; a soft thud
as they closed. Someone gripped my left arm,
Control: We’re starting now.
Softer: You’ll feel a slight sting, maybe a chill.
And I did. As they pumped the dye
into my arm, it stung; then rushed cold
up into my shoulder. On my right, a voice read out
metered progress. Muted discussion back and forth.
Control we’re trying again.
Multiple hands on my left arm. Again
the sting, the cold. Again the read-out.
Again the conference. Someone on the left said,
We have to get it this time.
To me, John, we’re going to do it again. I nodded
against the sheet; thought of the sack in Fargo.
Control, we’re doing it again. It didn’t take.
The sting, and they began squeezing my arm like a cake
decorator puckering pink sugar roses.
I must have floriated the display; they said I could relax.
Movement around me seemed to pull back,
then stopped as Doc entered, introduced himself,
Do you feel this? Or this? A rustle
of paper garments; a click of instruments;
Control commanded: Stop!
Beneath the bed of flowers, I tasted salt.
John Hicks is a narrative poet whose work has been published or accepted for publication by: Valparaiso Poetry Review, I-70 Review, Ekphrastic Review, Glint Literary Journal, Midnight Circus, Panorama, Mojave River Review, and others. He writes among the wild horse bands of northern New Mexico.
From Issue 23: Numb-Struck