by Jonathan Glenn Travelstead

When the doctor pins what I thought was my heart
she gently stakes the webbing
where my body entraps emotions. I'm not ready

when she finds them or her precise,
surgical sticks. After each one, I feel something newly
unimportant letting go, & I feel lighter.

She finds things I don't know beside mementoes
I never fully digested-- pink sunglasses,
a tube of Burt's Bees. She sticks my shoulder

& I remember the girl in fifth grade
who chucked the cherry cordials I'd hidden in her desk
from the third floor of Lincoln school.

The memory is so big she sticks my other shoulder,
which hurts so bad I lie: Stop, I'm happy!
I'm whole! I'll love myself again!

A good doctor knows when a patient has bedded
his grief. Knows I will take it home,
tongue it like a sore tooth.

Where I am now. Behind closed eyes, whiskied
by a fire, I'm tracing my old scars
with the malpractice of others upon me.

Which is why I don't see her poise the longest dart
with the smallest gauge, or her face
still & fierce. Why we're never ready

when someone plunges their lance
into any of our other hearts.

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