It’s like getting lost
in a foreign country. You do not speak the language.
to ask directions. People say lumbar radiculopathy. Facet
Broad-based disc protrusion. Forget your destination.
The trick is not
to feel self-pity. The way I do it is to say my body
is not my
body anymore. It is someone else’s. The pain, therefore,
is no longer
mine. I am merely visiting this bedroom where someone
I don’t know
lies in pain, waiting for sunrise. I bend over his body
solicitously where, when, and for how long it has
He tells me. We sigh together, companionably.
slowly. First, the sky whitens. Ghostly trees emerge
like the images
on photographic paper in the stop bath
of a darkroom.
You have a whole new day of pain ahead of you.
The sunset from pain’s
window is painted by an artist who dips the finest, camel-hair
in cochineal, royal purple, amber, tangerine, salmon, raw sienna,
Sky flames. And then its coals cool. A rose glow suffuses
like the traces of a woman’s carmine lipstick on a light-gray
napkin. And now
the painter, grown tired of sunset, rinses those blazing brushes
in a clear glass jar
fof water. All color dissolves. The water turns to dusk.
Pain is needy.
What did I do today? Talked to it as to a lover.
that feel? Is it better when you lie on your side
and put a pillow
between your legs? Curl knees up to your chest?”
I tell my body
that we will go to dinner tomorrow with two old friends.
It will be
a Roman dinner. We’ll reenact Pompeii, wear togas,
recline in style
on cushioned couches called lecti—not painful, straight-backed
chairs—in the triclinium,
or formal dining room. We’ll drink a whole bottle of cabernet.
Or rather my friends
will drink the wine for me, since I can’t mix alcohol with
the drugs I’m on.
They are good drugs. We’ll have some fun before Vesuvius blows.