Your voice floods my ears
At 6:45 A.M.,
"Patient Number Four, it's time
to do your vitals."
I'm standing in the doorframe
of my hospital cubicle--
right hand in yours, the nurse's,
left hand in the shredder--
or is that the wire frame that's holding
me up like I'm a head on a stake?
"Have you eaten, how long has it been now?"
I try to tell you the truth, but my mouth feels miles away, riding on the train
that you people call my throat.
And my throat has brought me here, to your pristine prison cell because
I betrayed it too many times.
"I need to get your vitals, will you come with me?"
And how do I know, how do I really know
that you are not trying to ****** me
with gleaming round numbers
and records of compliance, cooperation.
How do I know that you are not trying to re-name me in this hospital's file-cabinet language?
"I need you to follow me to the lab."
Why are you trying to take me away
The self I spent so many years
constructing from the bits and pieces
of black earth I dug up eagerly, fearlessly.
I cannot move to your white room--
the other flavor of white reserved
for nurses, not the oatmeal in my cubicle.
I cannot leave this arm with its chewed-up edges or this crime-scene throat
with its flapping lid.
"Please give me your arm and make a fist."
I already told you, or tried to,
I cannot give myself to you.
I have given myself away too many times
under too many names.
And I am tired, so tired,
of chasing myself back to Me.
So you drain me right there in the hallway
and seal me back up
without a kiss--
So I kiss myself on the thick vein you chose and whisper
my real name to myself
Because I am terrified, so terrified
of forgetting it.