Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Cuff of Doom

Sitting on the ledge
of the doctor's table
fidgeting, the new white
patient's paper cover
crinkling beneath my jeans
the doctor finally comes in
to take my blood pressure
she pumps the black ball
the cuff tightening around
the sweaty hinge of my arm
her face gets serious
Is it bad? I ask
after she deflates her cuff of doom
It's elevated, she says
Are you nervous? she asks
I feel my heart in my throat, I say
I haven't been here in ten years, I add
Okay, I'll go check on someone else
and be hack in about ten minutes to
take another reading, she says
Think calm thoughts, she says
then she closes the door
to the horrible little pink room
my pulse slows down finally
as I stare at a jar of cotton balls
& allow my mind to drift back
twenty-five years ago,
to my two favorite cousins
Petey Boy and Benny
the way they used to bring us
smaller kids out on the lawn
at dusk in the summertime
how they'd set up a semi circle
of old wooden folding chairs
how we'd sit on our legs waiting
the two of them facing us in the center
fireflies flashing in the air around us
& the steady repetition of crickets
then they'd start retelling their
favorite Twilight Zone episodes
they'd team-tell each tale
trading off on details and dialogue
I remember I'd forget everything else:
about school the next day, my dog
my friends, my father and mother
I'd lean on the edge of my chair
waiting for the next scene to unfold
my favorite episode was the one about
the camera that took pictures of the future
my cousins would love to watch
our faces as they retold the mysterious
twist of the last scene
That's why we do it Benny, Petey Boy would say
pointing at my wide-eyed face with
my knees pulled up to my chin
For expressions like that, he'd laugh
then after that Benny would play the guitar
& they'd harmonize Beatles' songs
moving from one song into another
in the thick summertime night
even back then my favorite was "Yesterday"
then afterward, I always felt sad and quiet
in the shadowy backseat on the long drive home
like I had left something behind
Fade. . .
the door swings open
once again the doctor pumps up
the cuff of doom
& we both wait
I keep looking at her face
her mouth scrunches up to one side
like she's almost disappointed at the drop
You were just anxious, she says
It's a lot better than the first reading, she says
But I'd like to keep an eye on it, she adds
as the cuff shrinks back down, defeated
This blog is updated irregularly and has nothing to do with the poet's output. The poet is actually disturbingly prolific. He writes about 5 poems per day. The pages are everywhere, even stacked in the bathtub.