Poetry Post-A-Thon: The Diagnosis

This one was published in Alaska Women Speak.

The Diagnosis

In my cave,

in the emergency room,

the doctor left the room dark,

with just a crack of light,

that bled in from the hall outside.


In just eight hours, my right eye had gone

from noticing the blurred hands

of the clock on the wall,

hands that smeared like ink on wet paper,

to the hot lightning bolt

of photophobia, pain that had me

holding my head in the dark,

and praying for no light.


For an hour, my fiancé and I

were left alone in the cave,

to watch shadows move underneath

the closed door frame,

as the eye specialist saw

a man who lost control of a chain saw

and injured his eye.


You’re lucky. He can see you too,


the doctor said,

as I imagined a slipped hand,

fragments of wood splintered in an iris,

a severed optic nerve,

and the blood that brought him to the hospital.


Later, the specialist caressed my hands,

as he scooped them away from my right eye.

I smelled the Dial soap

and wanted to believe him:

I understand this hurts.

I’m fairly sure of what you have,

but I have to be sure.


Then, like a piercing light saber,

the scope swept across my eye.

Before the pain could cut

through my brain, he stopped

and pronounced:

iritis, at a minimum.


The specialist dimmed the lights

and my right eye went closed again.

My left eye, the one that could still see,

saw the first doctor

who shadowed the specialist.

I knew it! His fist balled

in triumphant victory,

of a correct diagnosis,

of what I had lost.

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