He tells me to hold her down, to pin her arms
tightly against her sides and lean myself
across her legs. I do as I’m instructed
and he holds the hissing mask over her nose
and mouth. She looks up at me. Her eyes are flooding.
She’s not quite two and her sobbing helps ensure
she’ll breathe in deep the anesthesia. When
she’s still, they’ll start the imaging of her brain.
I’m here because she trusts me most to keep her
safe. She struggles hard against my hold
learning her first lesson about betrayal.
She’s screaming Daddy!, pleading for me to stop.
She kicks hard at my ribs so I lean more heavily
upon her. I can smell the gas she’s breathing—like candy—
and then she stops, her breathing slows, her eyes
roll up inside her head and she slumps, open-mouthed
and limp, in my tensed arms. Thirty pounds
of inert weight the tech slides easily into
position inside the chamber of the machine.
I’m escorted from the buzzing room, but
before I go I make sure I see her chest rise,
her chest fall. I sit down on a folding chair
out in the hall. The technician tells me, smiling,
You did real good in there, Dad.