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October 10, 2011

by Sheila Black

(for Walker)

        For the hand   that did not shake  when they  cut into 
him as into a side of pork.   for the mask   the nurse smeared
with   blueberry-flavored chap-stick    so he would not 
smell the latex.  for the  latex 
            the sixteen screws   they screwed
into his fibula   his tibia  the width of his femur   for his
femur     like an adze or   the keel of a boat   the anesthetic 
injected around  the bore hole   and into each bone    the stitches 
which melted    the white  gauze pads   they taped over 
        for the sterile theatre  for the extra
like mercury  for the mirrors  which bounced the light around
the room  for when  he asked  the anesthesiologist  for a drug  
                that would   not  put him 
so far under    he became   to himself   unknown  for her 
reply   that this  could  not be  done   that we  must move 
as into the mirrors  which  is   to say  
                as into silver   light.     

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Sheila Black is the author of two poetry collections, House of Bone and Love/Iraq (both CW Books), and two chapbooks, How to be a Maquiladora (Main Street Rag) and Continental Drift with painter Michele Marcoux (Patriothall, Edinburgh UK). With Jennifer Bartlett and Mike Northen, she recently edited Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, just out from Cinco Puntos Press. She lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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  1. October 12, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    I’m in love with this poem. The reading adds so much, to really savor the white space and silence as much as the words. Thanks for having audio with each poem. It adds so much.

  2. Barbara LaMorticella
    October 26, 2011 at 5:28 am

    This is such a rare, rare poem. The close observation of clinical detail presented in a bare, almost stark fashion, which somehow builds to a kind of great and moving lyricism…

  3. January 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I enjoyed this poem very much and how it relates to the medical world. Thank you.

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