March 25, 2020

Susan Browne

BONANZA

Amanda shows me my bones,
A picture of my spine, ghost-like,
Snake-like, like it could rattle.
I say, 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
The plate. 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)

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