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by J.M. Regan

In a House of D of long long ago I learned how
to roll tobacco,
and eat stew with my fingers like a Hindu,
and survive getting raped all day by murderers.
In return I earned an eternally positive sera,

and became a natural host, a host-plant the drowned feed from,
a stand in the water my doctor flails the seed-pods from --
with his polyclinic hands and seas of hair I nearly disappear under,
how I sprout and flower flower
for my sky-blue and Mediterranean doctor.

He sneaks looks at me like a dirty picture.
When I was small and caught men watching me like that,
I thought they hated me.
But now I'm big and think better.
I think I'm protected.

It's not all bad, it's not all bad,
he keeps promising --
as though good or bad had a single thing to do with it! --
and, Did I hurt you? -- the pick in the duct.
I don't know.

Are you still suicidal? -- probing my swollen groin.
It's an option, doc.
While the cringing vein, sick of invasion,
reluctant to give up more blood,
drips drips drips into the rubber tube.

My Jewish doctor loves me truer,
sitting rigid at the bare Care Center like a gaunt tree,
and the air of a bored whore,
one eye on her watch,
one hand in her snatch,
one face in a nest of snakes to shock me into shape --
inescapably stable, like iron.
They held a razor to my neck.
The world, she says, is full of irritation.
Our hour's up.

Two decades later now I've got stigmata,
I'm going holy:
tongue and palate cancers, gummatous change
engage my way of tasting, tasting, my way with speech.
It's grown unruly.

It's exploding my bones.
Find me a spontaneous cure! 
   the kind that purifies 
      the lives of saints,
and drives the sun to leave its prints
in every leaf, and each brief bird,
and even in the marrows of the stones.