Floating above the gynecologist’s hands,
Dolor looks down at me
with her many expressions.
Someone sketched the eyes, the mouths,
someone pinned them up,
arranged the faces
so they softly say, like this? like this?
The doctor says to choose one,
but I’m no fool, I close my eyes
and the speculum is blind and cool,
widened and distracting.
Like the Chikyū vessel drilling
downhole from the ocean floor
into the untouched mantle,
it shows we’re scarred inside
by what years and use and trespass do.
Every day the women open their eyes
and follow me into the streets,
the cities, like a wind murmur begins
a rumor of waves, the faces of earth
saying let this pain be error upon me writ.
From Human Hours. Copyright © 2018 by Catherine Barnett. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press.