Timothy Cook


Sunday morning you will not be at Mass
but at the ophthalmologist’s office.

More than the chart, the two foot tall E
you can see clearly when you open

your left eye, you will hate the finger test.
How many fingers am I holding up?

the doctor will ask. How many
now? Monday afternoon

an MRI: the camera clicking will sound like
a lawn mower roaring beside your skull

or techno. You will remember
raves, beach-ball-sized nitrous balloons

carried above the roller rink crowd. Tuesday
the diagnosis— 

                        you will know
the look on your face from the look

on the doctor’s face, a mirror 
                        with a skipping record.  


After the IV insertion
you will paddle motionless water
at the Skokie Lagoons on an overcast day

till smelling salt elbows you in the forehead.
What’s your name? Where are you?
the nurses will yell. You will remember

standing in an unlit bathroom chanting
Bloody Mary. At night you will lie

in bed unable to think about anything but
the catheter in your wrist. Though hidden
beneath a bandage you will feel it

under your skin, in your vein,
at every moment you will know
it is there. You will remember

Ghost in the Graveyard,
Catch One Catch All
summer nights. When the spike

is removed you will feel cured
though a phantom limb itch will haunt you
for weeks. You will remember Seven Minutes

in Heaven, friends gathered around you,
their middle & index fingers beneath
your body, their voices repeating

Light as a feather, stiff as a board.


Lesions, scars, plaques
you have heard called
the white blotches—

you will be thinking
while the neurologist quickly clicks

the mouse, images switching
so fast it looks like
            a feeding hummingbird. 

You will not be thinking of
an inkblot that simultaneously portrays
a bat & two faces approaching for

a kiss, you will not remember
            your optical illusion
science project: the young woman’s profile/

the crone’s face. You have always wondered
what doctors see when they look in
your ear, your nose, your throat,

but seeing your brain,
            your self,
the consciousness you cling to

so tightly, reduced to
            a clump of tissue,
you will be on the verge of vomiting.


You will live, will not die

even if you choose not to
inject yourself every day

forever. You will remember
your heroes were intimate

with needles. Under Depression
the Medication Guide will state

Some patients have thought about or
have attempted to kill themselves.

Feeling as though you are
crowded around your parents’

living room watching yourself
on super 8, you will stay home

from the party & rent horror movies.
Skin littered with injection holes

like the mouths of volcanoes,
you will remember your heroes

committed suicide as you watch
hosts of the undead, blood

dripping over their chins,
terrorize the living.

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