1816 c/o Ailbhe Darcy

We are coming to you from the waiting room,
jerking and chawing, joints disjointedly jointed,
fiends from a film no one’s invented.

Mademoiselle whose mammaries threw
Monsieur le Docteur’s notes for a loop,
prototype for the keeping-a- distance-contraption;

two little girls playing telephone
beneath a turkey oak starting to redden
sixty years before telephony’s invention;

soldiers dying before photography
beneath the dome of Salpetrière
where angels would faint for Charcot;

and your mother, terminal, tubercular.
We, the sick and the sickening and the soon-
to-be- sick, we’re closer than you’d like to admit.

Here in your nightmare you will intimately ausculate
all of our mouthparts and secretions,
sections and receptacles, hear our bruit. Come,

you have so little to fear. We are the ones
who in the bathyscaphes of our own bodies
enter daily and daily plumb these bodies of ours.

We who sicken in time and not on your table,
which we now overturn. Monsieur le Docteur,
now does it hurt? How about here?