Love Poem from South China, 1999
The tropical infection traced a map up my finger and standing outside the Kunming Red Cross Hospital, we watched this white rabbit eat Christmas poinsettia before we found the Doctor named Wen. Registration for the operation cost 3 kuai 5 equivalent to twenty-seven cents. Dr. Wen pointed two fresh, ready fingers at his table and repeated (in English) operation. After the lecture on pus and abscess, you expressed nonchalance at the sight of his knife, (he unwrapped it, you said, optimistic) and I whispered translations into the shirt where I buried my face at your waist. When Dr. Wen sliced the finger like tropical fruit the leather taste spread to the back of my mouth. Operation, your belt, Chinese vocab abscess operation, white rabbit, red plant. The day went on outside, and when I noticed it again hours later, I had stopped screaming, The bandages were just gauzy hotel curtains, angels in fluttering light. When I rolled from the shadows of hospital shock, you introduced me to my finger. Gored and masked criminal bandit! Escaped from the red cross, you said: Finger X. Read a passage from Our Man In Havana. Yes, China, Havana nary a trauma; we double wrapped the digit’s disguise with a plastic shower cap and swam off the coast of Hainan. But just to be safe, you carried me through the water with my hand raised like a torch above the waves.
First published in the Seneca Review. Copyright © 2009 by Rachel DeWoskin. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.