March 2, 2012

Still Life with Body and Hands

At fifteen I practiced palmistry,
spent hours tracing creases
and fingerprints
in search of a direction.
I looked for boyfriends and jobs
on the horizons of my friends' palms.
My life line was broken twice
and I wondered which path
would be the wrong one.

This morning, the stethoscope
is heavy as a stone around my neck,
the bell cold and sterile.
It weighs as much as my white coat,
with its laden pockets of reflex hammers
and responsibility, lint collecting
in the bottom with pens and
forgotten rare symptoms.
I warm the metal against my palm.
Taking it from my shoulders leaves me
weightless, almost naked.

Every morning, this weight surprises me
before my hands tell patients' fortunes.
Feeling for the edge of a liver
or thumping for pneumonia,
testing hands for strength and 
feet for sensation,
I read their bodies by touch alone:
lives recorded in scars,
life and head and heart lines now
nothing more than creases and folds.


Anonymous said...

love love love, love.

Lisanne said...

this is so deep