New World

First comes the weight,

then the ringing,

then the scatterplot of electric light

strung out along the riverbank through the window.

Your hand stays immobile on the bed

because, who knows? It could have been

some bandage pressed tight against the skull

by a mindful nurse doing her job, as in

stanch post-surgical bleeding

with a secure compress for twenty-four hours

until patient is upright and fully conscious.

Not quite ready to give up

on magical thinking, that’s what you thought,

(or made yourself think)

because, you know, “Stay positive.”


But, because you’re human

and it can’t forever stay four AM in the ICU

on the morning after, you raise your hand

to discover

that any distinction between weight and ringing

is irrelevant, since

tinnitus is the brain’s response

to loss of auditory stimulation

resulting from the trauma of schwannoma resection,


“We’re hopeful, but nothing’s positive.”

(You never pondered before

how the rubbing of palm against ear

is supposed to be audible).


For a moment, the summer disaster flick

is your sole wish, since it would only be fitting

for a tidal wave to come surging up from the Atlantic,

smashing your body

into oblivion. But it’s morning,

and the scatterplot is fading as the city reassembles

out of the grey while a barge drifts downriver to the harbor.

So you settle beneath the weighted, ringing silence

and wait for an orderly to bring breakfast.

Because, really, what other choice do you have?