First Woman: The Building Katja

Stroke rehabilitation

Show me, I say, my hand
making, somehow, the small performance
of a quick, freehand outline of the United States,
where is Florida. Make an X.
On the slightly enlarged hanging
leg I drew for him, my patient
indicates correctly. Good.

Show me Maine. Texas. California
and Oregon, startlingly, sit among
their fellows in this man’s version,
like party guests who bunch around the buffet,
like a New York joke, everything East Coast.

This cognitive exam’s more familiar than my hand
that in harsh morning light suddenly shows age, more familiar
than the memory of how so many late nights I longed
to escape rooms exactly like this one,
staring at the hospital doors, so angry
that they opened again and again, but not for me.
Now so willingly why do I return
sketching my bold lines? Can you mark
the middle?
I expect
that what we neglect
we must come back to learn.

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February 2002 2River