I have no idea how to name a baby
with a penis. All names seem false.
Maybe it is because I have never felt
completely like a man, but more of a blend
of sea and sandalwood. Certainly not
pipe tobacco and sage-burned sweat through
cologne. Plus, all the tides ruin the
Yet I have to father a boy,
teach masculinity; something like
a willingness to sacrifice without words
or a courage to protect. But, honestly,
many women do those things better.
So what is uniquely male besides
tempering the testosterone with
learned restraint and grace? Or
teaching that strength is a function
of vulnerability? In the end I just
want him not to harm. And to listen
to the wash of brine around his
(Originally published in Beautiful Cadaver Project)
My patient does not want to live
My job today is to sit with him for 12 hours
so he doesn’t try to open the blood or close the air.
He has not wanted to eat, but this morning
he allows French toast and sugar free syrup
to nourish him. He even drinks his milk.
When the young doctors arrive he barely answers them.
The mid-20s man asks How does your body feel today?
And my patient answers: It lets me know it is still here.
He throws a few more answers onto the ground
and the doctors shrug at me and slink out perplexed.
My patient is in his 60s, has bilateral
AKAs (above knee amputations),
doesn’t feel like defecating more than
once a week. I ask him what he wants
to watch, he chooses a paranormal investigation
show. Are you still here? How many of
you are still here? the young researcher
asks into the dark, night vision film
rolling blank blue and yellow.
A thunderous moan comes out of the corner
and they all spin around, monitors flickering.
I ask my patient, Have you had any experiences
with ghosts? He nods, Oh, yes.
I inquire, Did you grow up in a haunted
house or something?
Nope. And then he just looks at me
and when I look back he pretends
he is staring at something behind me,
the whiteboard with his food intake, his urine
output displayed in dry-erase. I want to hear
his stories, I want to release his ghosts
which spin opaque behind the glass,
which inhabit his body
(Originally published in Thimble)
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