(WAITING ROOM NOTES DURING AUTO
Whether on my side or back
with a half-height or full pillow
the warning light in my shoulder
fires at the lightest touch.
It glows in the dark before sunrise
and flickers as I roll out of bed.
I dress with caution,
open the back door with care,
and turn each page of the morning paper
with a newborn caress.
But regardless if I sit, stand, rush or stroll,
it pulses down my triceps,
across my elbow and into my wrist.
I’m scheduled for annual maintenance
but might need some tweaking sooner.
I hope it’s just a bit of misalignment
or will respond to a quick lube.
I’m attached to the original equipment
and would rather not have to install
even the best replacement parts.
(May 31, 2016)
THIRTEEN VIEWS OF SPINE SURGERY
Even after paying for a second opinion,
studying models, reading brochures,
watching online simulations,
and filling our brains with a five-course meal
of information and testimony,
in the end we take uncertain steps along the tight rope
of a surgeon’s smile, calm voice and steady hand.
He may have done thousands,
but for us it’s as intense and irreversible as losing our virginity,
a unique journey down a dark alley,
blind-folded and hand-cuffed,
praying for safety and light.
Everyone wants to know my birthday,
but my only presents
come in vials, cups, drips and pads.
Tightening my neck brace,
I wonder what to blame.
The sweet sting of a sure tackle
climbing the stairs into boyhood,
working my way from interested observer
to proud participant.
The pulsing ache of the canoe’s middle thwart
bouncing across my neck as I fought
to keep it aloft while stepping over boulders
and walked the length of a log over a marsh
and tried to reach the next forked tree rest.
Diving from the bridge
and smacking through the lake’s shimmer
in a direct shot toward the bottom boulders.
Losing my grip on the waterski line
and tumbling into the wake’s wave
before settling in froth and quiet.
Making use of my summer off
and grandpa’s wooden extension ladders,
carrying packs of asphalt shingles rung to rung,
from the front lawn to the roof ridge.
Every chapter packed with pleasure
until my fingers’ tingle and shoulder’s ache
mailed hourly postcards and refused to sleep.
(September 22 – October 17, 2016)
Bill Newby underwent a successful discectomy
surgery performed by K. Craig Boatright, MD,
on September 22, 2016. Prior to and after
his surgery, he wrote several poems about the
experience. These are two of those poems.