The poster in the doctor’s office proposes
Eden: varicose peonies tilting
over a turquoise pool.
Blossoms lush, carnal, and tipsy
as aging courtesans. We are not
to take seriously the stainless steel.
Technicians murmur incantations.
I obey these priests, I disrobe as instructed.
In the inner sanctum the ultrasound reveals
black-and-white galaxies aswirl in my breast,
streams of stars, dazed planets, a loose comet here and there.
When the high priestess moves her wand,
the night sky heaves like Atlantic swells.
I must have said, unknowingly, the right prayers:
the dangerous stars have receded.
The gods grant me, it seems, a few more years,
and I walk with you again along the lake,
where dim waves jitter at the breakwater
and soiled, piled-up chunks of ice begin to melt
and the crumbling masonry of the balustrade
retains its air of raffish gentility.
We call this safety. Here we may stroll,
here we may pause and look out over the deep.

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