Sharp Gray Reality

© 2004 Steven K. Smith


My bed is a marvelous contraption
of motors, metal, water-proof padding and cotton,
although I, the engineer, the one who loves
to see how things work, can scarce do more
than gaze blankly at the TV attached
to the smooth white wall in front of me
while the scent of alcohol and death
assaults my nostrils, and listen
to the phosphor actors say their lines
over the background of the tick-a tick-a
of the PCA pump feeding narcotics into my arm,
and the Beep-beep, Beep-beep lullaby
of my room mate's heart monitor while I,
oh so carefully,
wiggle into what I hope will be
a more comfortable position on the sheets that
only a couple of hours ago were stretched
into taut white smoothness by two nurses,
the brown haired one with empty eyes,
and the middle aged black one,
the one whose starched white uniform was wrapped
too tight, cocoon-like around her body,
the one whose face held large, liquid eyes
that were gay or sympathetic, as called for...
The one whose expert hands massaged tension from my back
and threaded the catheter through my penis,
apologizing for my pain and my lost modesty,
and joked with me as she made my bed, smoothing
the crisp bedsheets into pristine white plains,
like new snow on a frozen pond, just two hours ago,
and are now already bunched and wrinkled and sweat-dampened
beneath me from the time I moved wrong and sent
a wave of white hot agony along the wound that runs from
just above my pubic hair to just below my nipples,
so that I groped for the button by my side to make
the PCA pump give me an extra shot of morphine,
to erase the sharp gray reality around me with its gentle white fog,
and for a moment it goes tick-a tick-a TICK TICK TICK
and I feel the drug hit my brain like running full tilt
into a soft white wall.


Note: PCA = Patient Controlled Analgesic

First written Oct. 1999, Edited Aug. 2003 and Jan. 2004

This appears in After Enough Time

Copyright 2004, by Steven K. Smith
All rights reserved

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