in the clinic

They sent me for this Cat-Scan to see just what the trouble was why i had been coughing blood as regular as a terminal TB case brewing

As I waited my turn to ride the machine a nurse gave me a little cup of water to drink on down

It was far less desperate off the page this wait, the bag of rags between the knees, I appeared to be the only patient there yet to receive a diagnosis

All the rest bowled over on Chemo brittle as vases nodding occasionally like sunflowers in spite of it all the cheerless expanse of wall

They sat across from me sipping as though the simple act of swallowing was something unfathomable

And the machine itself older now like the best of us chipped around the edges a fairground jalopy for catatonics, cosmonauts, listing this way and that

injecting iodine for the simple ballpoint reason of it

Well, I have squandered less memorable moments and called it fun

The results came back a few weeks sooner than anticipated The respiratory scan was miraculously unblemished but shadows laboured in orbit

The clinician made it clear that this was something far from that

a trip to the moon, the unwritten side

beyond that it was not his field

I remind myself of this as I tear the cellophane on my second pack of cigarettes of the day The picture on the reverse is of a row of irreparably damaged teeth it appalls me how one is compelled to pay look on it

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