“Grasp” by Bryan Maxwell

Bryan Maxwell


It’s just a reflex she says,
embarrassed that you have grasped
her undersized stethoscope in your tiny palm
and won’t let go, even as you appear
to be dozing. She is bent
somewhere between seated and upright,
ready to leave but leashed by this rubber hose
now taut against your pull. Even though
it must be uncomfortable for her,
that hunched posture, perhaps
she will stay for a few seconds longer,
if only to honor your act’s quiet wisdom
that we come into the world knowing nearly nothing
except that finding something, anything really,
in the hollow of one’s hand
is magical, a cause to clench and smile.

from Rattle #24, Winter 2005


Bryan Maxwell: “Being a poet and a doctor are essentially the same thing. You pay close attention to people and to words, and try to treat each one as if it was the very point of existence.”

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