Register Wednesday | March 21 | 2018

Standing By

A poem

“Suitcases do get misrouted,” I say
as he swabs my testicles with yellow
disinfectant, and one at a time,
separates the two halves of my
scrotum with forefinger and thumb,
wielding a local anesthetic, which
as I discuss the two automated
baggage sorting terminals, one
in Denver, the other in Hong Kong,
renders small talk possible. Surely
my hands don’t want to be parked
on my chest, assisting from afar?
They want to stray to where tubes
are being cut, ends cauterized,
future paternity nul-and-voided.
An electrical fire I don’t watch
seals my clipped gametal ducts
as I natter on about Hong Kong
at Dr. Carrier’s behest. Go on, yes,
about feeder belts and standby
baggage and how many million
tons of fill were shipped in to make
an island planes could land on,
while another part of me has to be
reminded to stay up at my chest.
I must be a recumbent figure
forged onto a medieval tomb,
a protective spirit overseeing
the desk of an obscure prelate.
“Your hands want to go lower,”
he says and we snigger at that,
at how much it sounds like a joke
about three farmer’s daughters
and a lucky travelling salesman—
halter tops flying in scenarios
we might get to the bottom of
in a bowling alley or duck blind.
Though already I can sit and hold
a wing-shaped band-aid in place.
I’m grateful for pinpoint accuracy,
for the proper use of materials
that lay close to hand, for cuts
so small there are no stitches
as I slide off the bed-table, dress
and begin a week of lollygagging
far from the site of my livelihood:
those festivals of Airbus-319’s,
wheeling up to painted stop-lines
where stevedores arestanding by.