This piece appears in the LARB Print Quarterly Journal: No. 17, Comedy
Between the poles of my hospital bed, my IV
tower, they’ve spawned a trauma-fauna
menagerie: butterfly needle, snake tube, CAT Scan,
ultrasound of catgut twang. A nurse frosts my belly
like a cruller (nurse and chef) and, with the wand,
rebel, deft, like a cruel or choral conductor
in some treble clef, starts mining for trouble,
blind and deaf. I look at this miraculous black-on-white,
chess-spackled, night-checked, stark lack
of a daughter or son, packed in the rafters
in front of my back. Looks like water and sun.
Black-milk. Shadow-light. This is a satellite
transmission from the depths of my space,
north of the fibula nebula, south of the mouth.
Water on Mars and no sign of life.
I have never been a less-faked naked. My nature
adores a vacuum. An avid void. I am not expecting
That this is the last time I’ll ultra-hear within myself,
ultra-see, dotted like an umlaut, the ultra-specks
of spacious vacancy. My belly empty as a pre-jellied donut.
My mind as empty, sure.
A fluttering fact catching in its empty net:
Erwin Schrödinger, Physicist, Austrian,
father, had two children:
Ruth Georgie Erica and “Schrödinger’s Cat.”
His lithe elegant Ruth and her more elegant sister.
See, a cat in a box is alive and dead
until it’s opened, and that is science.
There are infinite possibilities
for Schrödinger’s Cat, infinite ways she could be
alive or dead, and all a twinkling everything until one pawed god
flicks the latch and peers inside
and botches the flicker of the world.
My nurse, a polyglot wizard,
this woman who speaks English and ultrasound, is done. Jolly
jelly-mistress, grinning from ER to ER, she leaves me
and my vacancy be. Forgetting the monitor, she’s left my body
swimming before me like a rerun.
The ultrasound is singing like a mourner
And I am truly feeling how much Schrödinger
would have given anything for his cat to just be alive or dead,
anything to stop the shimmer of infinity. To know what it’s like
to know. Hey, you can touch a dead cat.
The nurse has left the ultrasound on and
it quavers with white like a highway flare. The side light
foreshadowing the wreck. You can touch road kill. It buzzes the erotic white
of an motel’s neon [NO] VACANCY sign. Off the interstate. I won’t flick it off.
As close my eyes, I hear the whir of the pulse, of the
beating heart, of Schrödinger’s Cat fluttering back
and forth between the poles of life