The Reclusive One - Poem by Patti Masterman
I still remember the day
I started hating the smell of doctors offices.
As a child I only associated the smell with
Getting a shot, every week, for ear infections
Because my parents home was a chimney,
A veritable smoking Krakatoa, of tobacco;
When she finally put hers out, I thanked god,
But not for long, because he had just lit another.
On this day I was delivered,
Innocent Specimen, having only ever known
Minor, easily forgotten pain during doctors visits.
This visit was different; the wound was increasingly swollen;
Turning dark at the center- it looked bad.
The doctor said words I didn't understand and left.
Turning to my mother there beside me, I asked,
What does 'lance' mean? That word meant nothing.
I think she was afraid to tell me; she just said, it'll be ok.
I was working it over in my mind; fearful, trying to decode that word.
But too soon, a cart was pushed up
With a torturers retinue of accoutrement's.
I couldn't even stand to look at it. I turned my face to the wall.
The doctor came back, and began spraying a coldness
Onto my inner thigh, by the knee, where my scar is.
It didn't help; in fact it made it worse.
Then he gave me two shots around the entry point of the venom
Then he began to cut; and I began to scream-
I had good lungs- my mothers hands fluttering near
My mouth, like disoriented butterflies; wanting to throttle that noise
From embarrassment or agony, I'm not sure which.
Time stalled and then stopped while he opened that rancid wound.
The pain was very like a nausea in which the entire body participated.
If coiled black snakes had erupted from that hole,
It would not have seemed unexpected, from so much hurt,
And that blue-black blood bubbling up out of the black cavern.
The good doctor carried me out to our car afterwards;
Very gently, he set me down after my passion.
His name was Dr. Hook; related to the pirate, I assumed.
I knew no one wanted me to suffer on purpose;
There was never any question about that.
They told me later, the flesh rotted clean to the bone there.
To this day, the smell of ether at the doctors office
Feels like intense pain to me,
A foreboding smell of agony yet to come.
I don't much care for spiders anymore either.
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