Tender To The Touch
by Belinda Roddie
I hold my arm at an odd angle, to air
out the infection. If I'm not careful,
it'll grow wings and try to fly, and I'm
too heavy for its festering voyage.
Two shots of brandy is what the doctor
recommends to ease the pain. The fever
dreams, she says, are natural, until
the people in it become shadows. Once
that happens, she tells me it's time for
the emergency room. Shadows are bad news.
I stand under the shower spray, and I want
to become one with the water, flowing
effortlessly out to the bay where the foam
turns green and the fish somehow still get
bigger by the year. Father goes fishing
sometimes by the rocky shore, wondering when
everything will clear up. Not just my infection,
mind you - everything. My illness, his career,
Mother's alcoholism, Grandfather's psychosis,
The doctor predicted that I'd be able to move
my arm fully again in two weeks. I keep
a calendar of this, next to a jar of painkillers.
My fingers are stiff enough so that they almost
need to be pulled by strings to function. High-ho,
sick marionette, for the medicine man has your
delicious poison. Just a spoonful, and you won't
feel so wooden when you're dancing.