Amanda shows me my bones,
A picture of my spine, ghost-like,
Snake-like, like it could rattle.
Amanda, it looks crooked, why
Is that? She shrugs, You’re not the only one.
Your bone density’s fine. You can go now.
My plebeian spine walks me toward
The mammogram room where I flop my boob
Onto the plastic tray. Flop is not exactly accurate
Concerning these tater tots.
Darlene tussles with them, trying to yank
What’s barely there & squish it under
Wait! I say, trying not to yell.
Darlene waits, complimenting me on my earrings.
I explain where I bought them in case she’d like a pair
& she asks if I’m ready & before I answer
My flesh is smashed & splayed into place,
I’m told not to breathe, the machine whirs,
My spine curves even more weirdly.
I am bones hung with a hunk
Of tissue muscle blood, I am not the only one
Who rattles & spins on the wheel of living’s roulette
& finally Darlene says
you can go now as she stares
At a computer screen. Is her expression alarmed
Or maybe her mouth’s just slightly crooked? I stand
Straight & naked from the waist up except for my earrings,
The room cold slabs of concrete where the body is a dumb
Animal searching for a way out. Bloused, I elevator
From the basement & walk outside into a bonanza
Of sunshine, the crowded street, the amazing meat
Of us, the jostling bones of us, the creaking, the sloshing,
The man carrying his baby against his chest in a sash
As if he’s holding eggs while riding a unicycle,
The old lady pushing an older lady in a wheelchair
So slowly the universe could be redesigned
Before they cross the street to the storefront brimming
With apricots & artichokes. Doesn’t take X-ray eyes
To see something inside us all, like a secret
I wish we’d tell without fear, leaning close,
Nearly kissing the other’s ear.
from Rattle #66, Winter 2019
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist
Susan Browne: “I’ve been in love with poetry since I was twelve when my next door neighbor gave me a book of poems, Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis. Archy is a cockroach and a free-verse poet. Mehitabel is a cat in her ninth life with many stories to tell. Archy has to throw himself headfirst onto each typewriter key in order to write. I was inspired! Poetry is my way of being in the world. I don’t know any other way.” ( web)