by Kathryn Kirkpatrick
No wonder he won’t stay put.
All day gray gowns unfurl
to the chest’s red seam or the thigh’s
saying who does not perish
saying give us more time
as he lines up tattoo and table
so photons, so electrons can dance
that maddening paradox, mend
while unmending. We chat
music and gardens, weather
and roads, until he darts behind
closed doors, leaves me
to the machine’s stark whine.
It’s how he travels the country,
gypsies west then south, no town
untainted, no field, no stream.
Out west they bring their RVs
to do chemotherapy.
It’s how he travels this life, daily
reminder our days are numbered.
Don’t look back he tells me
as he holds out his hand
this technician, technically not
lover or friend. But how many times
light-footed, on his way to somewhere
else, does he gentle my body
beneath the staring plates,
cast out the demons
as I reach back for the metal rail,
see the damage, the scar
still calling me by my name