He places a pillow across my lap,
then lets loose a joke about saving dignity.
He wants to check my scar, and the whole team
descends from their orbit to watch his cold hand
test a red line the length of my stomach
that closes where the stomach had been.
From their fingernail’s slice of cratered moon
they assemble the daily surgical theater
where I come and go, lifting and dropping my gown.
His fingers probe around the plate, reading auguries.
Then like a held breath retreating from stench,
the team deflates, the demonstration ended.
But today, there’s special providence:
the pathology drops like a winged thing
wounded. Like the one I’d found on the patio,
its feet still curled around some absent branch.
The sparrow had the look of a toppled-over
sleepwalker. My hand stuck in protective layers
of thin plastic grocery bags, I was afraid
that what I touched would spark, would wake and fly,
even though that’s what I should have wanted
for it. No readiness can cure that.