December 20, 2012

Surgery Rotation: 55 Word Poems

Soap and Water
The first scrub is best,
peeling open the sponge while
a high-pitched rush of water
splashes into the stainless sink.

My mind empties, meditative,
counting rapid brush strokes
under every nail, over every plane.

The bristles are soft
and harsh, simultaneously.
This is the cleanest I feel all day.

This is a Surgical Disease
“This is a surgical disease.”
They mean the condition has only one treatment:
a trip to the operating room.

What I hear instead is a disease
because of surgery
scalpels leaving trails of infection, 
wounds gangrenous and necrotic;

Maybe an abscess,
an abyss left behind with an organ removed
filled to the brim with fluid.

Butt Pus 101
Feel that? he asks.
Take this and cut
right there.

I do not say “really?!”
but take the scalpel
and incise. The blade
goes in with just enough resistance.

The surgeon squeezes hard
and bloody contents spill
out onto the field.

Five minutes and it is over,
the wound packed and dressed,
butt pus vanquished.

Surgical Asana
One hand extended
the other tucked, tight
against the solar plexus
keeping sterile.

Shoulders tense up first,
then I relax back into position.
A dull ache settles in place
and I breathe into the pose.

My wrist balances just so
on the field, barely lifting
the weight from my arm.
Mind and body unite,

She is a leaf in a hurricane.
"Are you nervous?" I ask,
the answer obvious.

We are taking her breasts
to save her from genetics.

In the operating room,
she lies on the table,
her body quaking.
I grip her hand
and do not look away.

"We will take good care of you,"
I promise.

The surgeon offers up 
a call and response:
What is the cure 
for cancer in a solid organ?
“Resection” is the murmur
throughout the room.

Hubris mingles with truth
into heady vapors.
How formidable a power--
how worthy of awe--
to effect a cure?

Medicine more often struggles to contain disease;
true remedies are rare.

Morning rounds are like church,
opening doors soundlessly
and using a penlight to check incisions.

Whispered questions are reverent,
invoking pain and suffering,
meting out longer fasts and purifications.

The surgeons gather around the bed
their faces lit from below:
magi come to see a miracle,
each patient at the center of its tiny universe.

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