An old man is playing fiddle in my head.
At least that’s what the doctor says,
pointing, as he holds my MRI to the light.

He must be eating the same hotdogs
my nephew microwaves. My nephew sees
Bob the Builder everywhere—smiling

in sauerkraut, sawing in the drifting sky.
Afternoons he names me Bob, knocks
my knee with a plastic hammer. I’m half-

naked, shivery with chicken skin,
napkin-gowned. But I don’t laugh
because I think the veined cobweb

looks like Abe Lincoln’s profile on the penny.
So let’s pretend I’m not sick at all.
I’m filled with golden tumors—

love for the nurse who feeds me
to the machine. The machine worse
than any death—the powerlessness

of a shaved & strapped-down body.
Even in purgatory you can wear earrings
& though the music might crack a spine,

at least in that torture, the tears from your arm’s
needle marks are mouth-wateringly sweet.

Copyright © 2006 Alex Lemon. “MRI” originally appeared in Mosquito (Tin House Books, 2006). Reprinted with permission of the author.