by Tabor Flickenger
That’s me burning, that smell
A touch of cautery here and here to halt the blood
I have wielded the needle and knife
Now it’s my turn to receive
I wash my hair kneeling
In mute supplication
Remove the dressing later, as instructed.
A little dried blood. Three neat blue sutures.
Not so bad. Not so bad.
I almost forget with my eyes closed
Till my fingers brush the prickly alien patch
Worry repressed is not banished
But descended, pushed down into the bowels
Frayed nerve ending pulse, twist, shudder
I work like all is normal. I tell no one.
I care for others’ pain and push my own deeper.
Every little thing is gonna be alright…
Sing it, Bob Marley. The radio is a sign.
I take the call between patients.
Benign. Not yet my turn.
Back to work.
I let our son into the bed before dawn
To nestle between us
Press my face into his curls and
Listen to his breathing in the dark
Author Bio: Tabor Flickinger, MD MPH, completed medical school and internal medicine residency at University of Virginia School of Medicine. She currently practices as a general internist and clinician educator. Her poems have appeared in Pulse, the Yale Journal for Humanities and Medicine, and Hospital Drive.