Johanna Shapiro, PhD
May 2008

A minor surgery
The assistant
places a sterile pad
with a hole in it
on the surgical field –
my back
Do you like tension?
he asks the doctor
stretching my flesh

When the needle slides in
loaded with anesthetic
the pain is unexpected
my eyes tear
the sting passes in seconds
but my eyes keep filling
the water brims over
spills down my cheeks
I sob silently
into the waxy paper
of the exam table
trying not to jiggle
the surgical field

First it’s about the pain
but then it’s about my uncle
who just died
then starving children,
my daughter’s divorce,
the typhoon in Burma,
the guy in the Hummer
who flipped me off as
I drove here
in no particular order
no particular importance
all the things we carry
and can’t change

The doctor steps back
shifts his eyes from
the surgical field
to my blotchy wet face
Your eyes are running,
he informs me
Do you have allergies?
I was about to correct him
when I realized
he’s right
I’m allergic
to the world