I. A train of patients

before and after

but the one here now

lies supine, quiet, eyelids taped shut

II. Tubing, stopcocks

draw sheet, up drape

the Japanese moon bridge

of chlorhexidine swabbed over the belly.

III. Bits of the patient

squiggle on monitors

shadow x-rays; inside is out

magnified on videoscreens

trimmed into specimen jars.

IV. The circulating nurse

keeps her scrub pants rolled and tucked

as if ready to ride a bicycle

as she declogs the suction again.

V. Too narrow, too wide

too purple, too red

too worn out;

and then there is cancer

calling to the wife in the waiting room

pray, pray now.

VI. The medical student at 2:00 am

is told to sew: evert, big bites, don't dogear

it is a small prize, a gift, a bone;

the anesthesiologist sighs,

keeps the sevoflurane on.

VII. Telephone, thermostat

pillows, computer—

the surgeon slides her hand behind omentum—

and no matter what

afterwards it is always the mop.

VIII. The anesthesiologist watches

the patient breathe piped oxygen;

hears the bellows force the chest to rise


each breath says


yes to time

yes to health

yes to life.