she writes in the empty spaces between the words
between the world,
world-weary fingers and toes and pengrips, knives
letter-opener swords, typewriter machetes
arm-wrestling with fate and the universe on a piece of paper,
computer screens painting faces with colors
stained-glass hyphenated hue-tint-shade glory
she is patient.
she's their patient, doctors and nurses
emergency room, operating room, clinical study
they wish fervently to cut her open.
her insides will be beautiful, they say,
beautiful and pink and full of words.
unwords, she says.
she writes on her skin, on napkins and paper bags
inscribing fate and the universe in ink and pencil lead
sharpened down to stubs, nails bitten short
pens running out, she is falling
stable decline, not irreversable
your insides will be beautiful, they say,
let us cut you open with ornate scalpels
ritual sacrificial tools from a dead religion
and she makes mouse scratchings, cuneiform
hieroglyphics, kanji, cyrillic,
whatever will keep organs from failing
and lungs from filling with fluid
and they cut her open with modern equipment,
cold steel tables on spines numbed with anesthetic and needles she can't see
excise the poor, the broken, the unfit tissues
(unlike the tissues she writes on, they are best for grafts and not graphs)
hands shaking, they give her a pen in the post-op
and all she will do is stare at the intravenous drip
her mother, on the far side of the glass, mouthing questions
doctor, is she all right?
tight-gripping information clipboard, perscription papers
he tells her it's too soon to know
the mother chews her nails and the doctor his pencil
it's a nervous habit.
she writes on the sheets and blankets,
and the tension breaks into a thousand stained-glass pieces
the relief on her mother's face is hidden in sanitary lab-coat cotton
he pats her back, and sends them home
with pills and pens,
insurance forms for the mother
and a coupon for Staples he didn't need
glasses of water, pitcher on wood the color of honey
they sit at the kitchen table and write him a three-page-long letter
thank you, doctor
(and from the mother, would you like to have dinner this weekend?)
she smiles and writes a phrase on her plate with dry-erase marker,
and says, "call him."