Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Standards

and again the test comes back negative for waterborne parasites
for gonorrhea of the throat and of elsewhere       for white blood cells in the stool

this isn’t always true       sometimes it’s a phone call from your lover
sometimes it’s your computer blinking on with news of what’s wrong
              with your body    this time

simple really       how he says the name of a disease
and suddenly you’re on your back           staring out the window onto a highway

suddenly a woman enters the room       to wrap a black cuff around your arm
and squeeze until you’re no longer sick

to slip a device under your tongue       check in your sweat’s accompanied
by the heat it demanded

and aren’t we all of elsewhere sometimes     the nowhere places you make yourself
inside the hallowed chambers of the hospital    and inside the man’s unsure voice

when he calls and is too scared to name the precise strain of letters
you might share now       what parasite might feed on the topsoil of your groin

what laugh track                   what tabernacle unlatched to let all that god in
what bacteria spreading its legs in your throat      as you speak

when the illness is terminal            you drink an eighth of paint thinner
while all the color drains from your face

all those little rocks in your gut turned to buses    all those buses full of strange men
each     one degree apart        all going somewhere and gone now

funny how a word can do that       garage the body

what if instead he’d simply called to say     epithalamium    or new car    or   sorry

Credit


From Bury It. Copyright © 2018 by sam sax. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Reprinted by permission.

Author


sam sax

sam sax is the author of Madness, winner of the National Poetry Series and forthcoming in 2017 from Penguin Books.

Date Published: 2018-09-20

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/standards