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.