These machines would be softer
had their creators been women.
There would be less smashing,
for starters. Less smashing
and gentler needles.
In the waiting room you fidget
through piles of last year’s glossy models
and wonder if this blonde ever dangled a breast
through a glory hole in an elevated table
like a Toyota awaiting tire rotation.
Yesterday on the phone, your doctor
avoided all words beginning with C
and instructed you, belatedly,
not to worry.
But the second that fuzzy-lipped nurse
pinned you in place with a well-practiced
look of pity, the moment she plied you
with poorly-written brochures
about procedures and tissue samples,
you bypassed worry and shortcut
straight to funeral planning.
The nurse’s voice, tuned to a level
statistically proven to be soothing,
turned to static before she even
got to the part about how calcifications
are “usually” benign.
In your head, you’re already malignant.
You’re already bisected and breastless.
You’re already ash.
It’s like that pre-dawn phone call
months ago warning of tsunami.
And though they swiftly chased it
with platitudes about low probabilities,
and the tide could barely be bothered
to rise half a foot, you had already seen how the wave
would hulk down on all those complacent roofs,
turning your haven into so much flotsam
polluting the slipstream.
Panicked and pajama-clad, you stuffed
the trunk with non-essential photo albums
and the long white box in which your
long white wedding dress lay entombed.
You scooped up your favorite boots and
tossed in a notebook of poems and drove
up the hill to the safe zone while your neighbors slept on
and woke calmly to their coffee mugs,
immune to overreaction.
Now you sit bared to the waist
in a sickly pink room and memorize
the letters you must write to your tiny daughter
about how she shouldn’t try to be popular
in high school, because it’s the nerds
who always turn out better in the end.
When they open the door smiling
with gauze and hollow needles
you begin to understand just how far
your body will go to betray you.
-Lo, who got the negative result today. And I mean “negative” in the most positively benign way possible. Happy ending and all that.