When the doctor runs out of words and still
I won't leave, he latches my shoulder and
steers me out doors. Where I see his blurred hand,
through the milk glass, flapping good-bye like a sail
(& me not griefstruck yet but still amazed: how
words and names--medicine's blunt instruments--
undid me. And the seconds, the half seconds,
it took for him to say those words). For now,
I'll just stand in the courtyard watching bodies
struggle in then out of one lean shadow
a tall fir lays across the wet flagstones.
Before the sun clears the valance of gray trees
and finds the surgical-supply-shop window
and makes the dusty bedpans glint like coins.
The Atlantic Monthly; February 1996; The Body Mutinies; Volume 277, No. 2; page 71.
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