I’ve checked in, handed over my insurance card,
worn no lotion. Smiled. Routine. I hope.
Other women hold folders,
nod their crossed feet,
palm a smartphone for comfort.
The television modulates between what we must buy
and what we must lose, flashes stripes of want.
For visits like these, or for tooth extractions,
I bring a favorite author. Today, it’s Updike.
Collected Stories. It’s an adze of a book.
Glasses out of their case, page turned,
I catch a glimpse of a man with a translucent patch
under his left eye. He waits for his wife to emerge
from the door that opens to a giant flower
of welcome, then shuts with a sealing hiss.
Updike describes his grandmother’s thimble,
then her nose –
one nostril was squeezed into a teardrop-shape,
and the other was a round black hole
through which she seized the air.
The phrase, the scent of cloth permeated with dried sunlight
causes tears to butter my cheeks. Glasses off.
Pretend to watch the television.
My name is called.
Top off, everything to the waistline,
and just put your belongings
in the locker. Bring your valuables.
I take Updike with me
to the new, smaller waiting room,
now with less magazines,
but a larger television.
I confirm my name, birthday,
date of my last period,
then walk into a wilderness
of white machinery where the beehive
of Updike’s thimble, the nostril,
and the dried sunlight follow.
When the test is over,
I step off the continent of pastel carpet
and take the first door to the right,
just to walk longer, inhale the February air.