For Dr Barbara Smith)

 

As if I never wake from this blackout again, again this minute they lay it out

on the wheeling transporter, so silent, then the surgical table, 

my body, my citizen, anesthesiologists back from coffee break, cables

on mylar headrest taking my head down now, arms into armlock,

then positioners, restraints—day talk 

all round—the guidewires in, the intravenous ports, the drip begun.

An/aesthesia by which is meant the sensation of having sensation blocked,

a collapse of response, a total lack of awareness of loss of

awareness—

on the wall, snapshots of the chosen few training on 

The new 

 robotic patient- 

lookalikes—my only 

body—memories, contritions, facts—

oaths, broken oaths, my piece of path into the 

labyrinth—how far have I reached in—and in my flesh these

rapid over-rhyming cells, which want us to go faster, faster headlong, with

mirth ruth glee—what would they be—searching for

what minotaur, yarn in hand spooling-out mad towards core, eager for

core—all’s underneath—readout’s small pings beginning on the screen. They will

learn everything about me while I sleep. I sleep the sleep of those wanting to live.

I sleep the sleep of those wanting to be left alone by life.  And

safe. With guarantees. Here take the keys. I should wake up. It’s hard

accepting to be free. It is not true. You must be still and not resist. Are you

completely readable now. To survive, you need to be 

completely 

readable.  So I

accede, I sign the dotted line, they will keep track

of all there is, my breaths, my counts, my votes—invoices, searches, fingertips—don’t I

know you

from somewhere says my heart to the machine reading me out, didn’t I give you my 

code, my pin, my blanket 

permission 

to suppress the last revolution, to calculate the timing of 

 the solstice the pressure 

 cooker depth of

 ice core and whom

 do I have

 locked away 

down there—do you not see them—don’t look away, the

dials are set—where is the nearest job—no gauge picks up their swallowed screams at the

employment line, the check-out where the food is not enough, it is so

quiet here, who am I signing on to be,

and then—oh—here it comes again, here in moment I shall recall

however long the life is after this

when you look down at me and stare and your long arm offers its hand, cold hand,

and I offer you mine—we hold—then we repair,

you in your disposable surgical blue hair-cap, blue mask, I in mine, 

down, down through this operating theatre’s novocaine-green 

gleam, its cellophane membrane, serene, clandestine borderline &

your life depends on what says the disappearing air, the dis-

appearing vein, surveil me here, in solitary, entertain me mis-en-scene, 

hear me chain of command, touch me, stain-free middle class American

female subject starting downtown on the drip line,

on the gleaming staff of this protean sentinel, its silver rod 

held up, torchful of forgetfulness, streaming, translucent, give me your

mass, your teeming cell-dividing

mass—give me your poverty,

your every breath is screened, your every cell, it is not hit and

miss, we get it all, your safety lies with us, hold still,

granted it’s cold at first, this new relief, your icy nation thanks you

for the chance to test these absolutes on you

murmurs the gleaming staff in the deliberate air, astir,

toe-separators being pulled on now and leggings next,  

always a bit tighter that the blood flow fast in this undercover

slow maneuver, whirr, blink, you get a little extra life as a reward—for what I 

cannot see—what these concentrates of vigilance push into me,

capital and knowhow and all these minutes, minute—where to

finish off the string and bite the knot, erotic dead-end, no jobs,

the virtualization, the play of nerves, no jobs, they jab

the last bit quick—paradise confusion sedative—oh and the re-

bates the debates and the womb what was that really,

the total concentration of capital, the ten commandments, Job that

heartthrob now standing right before me here as the drip-line on its silver rod, 

its one arm up, its other out into this widening avenue

to step you off this 

luminescent curb

to hail what cab

the ghosts in their scrubs do not perturb, bitstreamed, stubbing the blood

where the small mound of flesh is grabbed, flap scabbed, snip drip as it is all

transcribed by the robotic arm, prosthetic mind, rich text, as she unslacks her

matchless stitch, having detached, having reattached, no speech in

them, bleached light, fleshtrim, mutation, division, over-expressed, under-

suppressed—held still

by your long hand, transnational, undersea cable, invisible ministration, 

and when you take mine into yours

you say under-

stand, 

we are taking the first steps friend

towards the longest journey, community,

breakers of codes, corporate raiders, west of everything, no immunity,

put on your hat your wrap be ready now to take my hand its certainty its

purity—

there will be no one come to fetch you back from here—

you must now take this voyage out yourself alone 

to reach the peerless place hard to think-in, squint-in, 

you will not be embarrassed there is nothing to reveal,

you are a shoo-in as the heroine, new citizen, back since the pleistoscene,

being touched up like a virgin engine in the squeaky clean saline

punchline, your soul at plumb-line, magic marker written in in print

to make sure LEFT is left, it’s not benign this timeworn 

zone in you, no not benign this fast archive, 

surgical thread making its dragline in the artificial

moonshine—how supine must the whole apparatus of being get,

shop-talk above you now a serpentine acetyline,

you under here endlessly re-learning the only story—abasement, abasement—

and here is my hand it says, slide yours into it, come now, radiant, 

astringent,

this river’s here for you to enter now, obedient, in payment, 

you in it now as it comes into you, your profit margin, look— 

flowers falling without attachment—

weeds growing without detachment— 

slide under now into ignorance—

there is no evidence, also no continuance—don’t mispronounce

your lifesaver, also a bit of fever, it too a visitor, and no I

cannot auger, also there is, in truth, no aftermath, just this new kind of

stalker—your personal flyover—your tiny temporary stopover,

and obviously no ecstasy in your surrender you have no choice also no

underwriter, take my offer—and I

did—and when I went home later I had a cup of tea

and made a call to her cell phone to get the unfortunate results

but we are not there yet,  still have the void here to traverse

across this page which is a wide expanse, and will these very words if perfectly 

overheard 

see me through

was the question 

as the cold came on,

me hoping  to do nothing wrong then hoping for a bargain, 

asking how long before one would be able to live again as if

and those other turns in the brine—the yetif not,

if now, and now, when now—turn towards me now a bit you say to them and then

lets turn the torso this way please recheck marked spot.

Can see the guidewires but can no longer feel them.

Then the thing on the other side, the person who will open up my hand and say

it’s over now can you hear me here is some water.

And in my room cut flowers still in their paper stapled up. Undelivered.

And you get a little extra life to live now—here—can you still live it.

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