Present your spine to the resident

and his audience of almost-

doctors, next year’s earnest needle-

wielders, sweet-

faced believers in science, interns here

to learn the precise

point of entry for a surface

wound. Percutaneous means through

the skin but this is bone-

deep, not puncture but punch, more

pain than most of them will know

in their lives of prescriptive

call and answer. The doctors are more scared

than you. Things can happen at the blind

head of a needle, in the laying

of hands, in an open-

faced excavation. The interns race

each other to name the risks:

headaches, herniation, hematomas, tonsillar

descent. This is how they find your fused

lumbar—three tries in, the topical

worn off, the experts unsure

why you’re resisting

being pinned—here is

the cause of your shallow

grand plié, your unwillingness

to be bent like a bird’s wing.