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Routine Procedure With Advance Directive by Marda Messick

Routine Procedure with Advance Directive


In the operating room before

            I go onto the table, go under

                        & undergo the knife


people in paper clothes regard me


                        (human eye to human eye) —


A nurse says state my name, date of birth

            & what they’ll do, left or right

                        (open my throat, saw my bone)

ten nine eight—


                        At seven I’m gone

not knowing what pleas or curses

            will fly out 


when the clean steady man

                        cuts to reveal

(relentless light of the sterile field)

            my inside flesh—


In the underworld my zombie soul

             (in brainstem terror)

                        searches for mother—


Until from paralyzed assault

            I return

at the shake of my name

            (not her voice)

                        to the solid world

            (nor her hand)—


Gauze-bound, awake to pain,


             of the excised hours

(of ligature, incinerator)—


Though body knows & counts the score

            (a frozen store)

                        & grieves my blood—

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