Poem by Timothy Robbins


 

Hospital

A pull-curtain rattles in its track showing the hem
of the nurse’s slacks. A German accent insists,
“My name is Lotte not Lottie. Like the cabaret singer,

the woman from Kurt Weil.” She wants the nurse
to know everyone and everything begged her to
dance when she was a Mädchen, even the trolley
that took her leg.

Her man was the handsomest doctor in Breslau.
She broke her hip returning from his grave. The
nurses at the other hospital bound her and bruised
her arms. She wet the bed like

a Kleinkind. This is the place where my uvula
swells, an occasion so rare they take a picture for a
textbook, my sole claim to immortality. I sit, a
poor man’s Alistair

Cooke, squeaking in a faux leather chair. From a
Dover Thrift Edition I read Lucifer by Starlight.
“He leans upon his western wing.” I see Old
Nick as a jumbo jet banking,

flying human freight through the highest dark
they’ll ever penetrate. The medical history form with
ovals like beady eyes asks if I engage in homosexual
acts — not a peep about

risky shit straight people get into. The phlebotomist
tells me her brother’s face graces a billboard. He
didn’t know this till he drove past it. “Once they
sign, models have got

no control over where their faces go.” Here
Grandma lay like a random throw of oracular bones
and the only muscles that still worked were the
ones that kept her pleading

cobalts trained on her daughter’s face. I point to
what looks like an extraterrestrial spaceship and
the nurse practitioner says, “Yep, that’s what the
virus looks like.” I conceive the strange

idea that Buddha will reject a cure if they find one.
I tell the curly-haired intern about the cardinal
couple conducting their courtship on our balcony.
The cock in his crimson cloak

and Zorro mask patiently passes seed to the hen,
beak to beak, then cocks his head as if to say see
how it’s done!
When my mate takes the feeder
down (worried about guano and encephalitis)

Curly says my immune system’s not that fragile
and writes this prescription: Restore bird feeder.
Feed birds as desired.

 

Timothy Robbins teaches ESL. He has a B.A. in French and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. He has been a regular contributor to Hanging Loose since 1978. His poems have appeared in Three New Poets, Slant, Main Street Rag, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Off The Coast and others. His collection Denny’s Arbor Vitae was published in 2017. He lives with his husband of twenty years in Kenosha, Wisconsin, birthplace of Orson Welles.

Art can illuminate even the most elusive and difficult to comprehend ideas. Visual rules and tightly codified visual metaphors help scientists communicate complex ideas mostly amongst themselves, but they can also become barriers to new ideas and insights. Dr. Regina Valluzzi’s images are abstracted and diverged from the typical rules and symbols of scientific illustration and visualization; they provide an accessible window into the world of science for both scientists and non-scientists.

 

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