Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pulling Through ~ 2001

“I have an ego the size of a Porsche.”
—K. E. Hansen

Each piece takes hours,
blue under gray, gray over blue, cord upon cord,
slowly you knot
intricate spirals.

Doctors have given you The Sentence
over and over
neurologists, nephrologists, endocrinologists,
can’t seem to figure out how
you keep pulling through.

You store colored beads in different sized
jars, a rainbow small to large.
Bit by bit, you intersperse them in symmetrical
patterns, each bead a witness to concentration
woven with curses
as you keep track of multiple cords,
threading, braiding, looping, knotting
by touch alone.

By now, your body is a battlefield,
legs, abs, hands, breasts, face,
assaults on every front,
eye and limb
You’ve lost track
how many times they’ve told you to get ready
for goodbye,
how many times you’ve kept preparing
for tomorrow.

Mid-piece, you always wait for a pair of eyes
to critique,
later, unraveling, unbraiding, unstringing,
if a single bead does not match
your plan.

Days when you’re rushed to ER,
sugar plunging or skyrocketing,
the doctors ask if you remember
who you are,
and you give them your first, middle, last,
and the names and doses
of every medication your doctor’s ordered,
the —izers, the —iptins, the —izones,
reciting the list
even on your way out
of consciousness.

Had you ever had a call back,
you would have put aside your macramé
and taken work,
when you could,
a telemarketer, you hoped at one point,
a survey conductor, you wished at another.
No employer took the risk.

“She’s not going to make it
this time,” doctors tell your family when you slip
into a coma one day and fail to slide
through. Week four, week five, week six,
they wait
for you to die.

Years’ end, you’re macraming again,
ornaments, key chains, wall hangings,
hands even slower now,
each piece days’ labor,
gifts you will wrap in thick Hallmark paper
the kind that does not wrinkle easily
you have called three stores to find.

Only your primary doctor
finally gives up
realizing at last
you’re not going to go
on someone else’s
not going to give up
before you’ve threaded through every bead
of energy you have for this life,
not ever going to start
cutting corners.