Things I Learned from Surgery
My leg read A-S-K, after
all my questions were answered.
Purple felt tip letters telegraphed:
This is your last chance. This
is when you escape. Instead I let them
mark me like a side of beef, claim
my incision points. Before they wheeled me
into an antiseptic room, I knew
exactly where they would open me, what stitch
they would use to close me up.
Knowing was not the same as experiencing
the procedure, not the same as watching
my husband wonder, “What part will they leave
for me?” Knowing never prevented me
from entering that room, feeling my leg dissolve
into a novacaine numb. It never stopped
the panic when I woke up
after my lost hours, immersed in pain
so permanent it felt like a poem
I would never stop writing.
12 poems down, 18 poems to go
( 7 on prompt, 5 off prompt)
(11 posted, 1 unposted)
Ah, revision. How I hate you. According to my records, this is the third full draft of this poem. This doesn’t include the multiple drafting stages before I consider a draft “done.” I am sick of this poem, but I think it’s finally getting on the right track.
After meeting with my writing group last night, they reviewed my chapbook manuscript draft and encouraged me to take another stab at this poem. To them, it still felt too narrative and didn’t center on a specific image. I hesitated and thought that maybe I would just cut the poem from the manuscript.
Then, I read today’s NaPoWriMo prompt from Carolee Sherwood, which encouraged us to make up (and translate) a secret code. This poem started with a secret message on my leg, left by my surgeon’s initials. (Surgeons initial you prior to a procedure, to make sure that they operate on the right body part. Both my surgeon, whose initials really are A.S.K., and my anesthesiologist initialed my leg before my surgery.) Using that secret code as the base, I then thought about what the code was trying to tell me.
I’m hoping that this is the last draft of this poem, for now. Like a good kid, I’m going to check in with my writer’s group and see what they think of it.