At the Hospital
My toes were cold and tingling.
I said to the nurse,
“I’m scared that these aren’t my toes at all.
Do you have any proof?”
She didn’t. She pulled
the covers to my chin
and said, “Just press the button
if you need me.”
As soon as she left, I pressed the button.
When she returned she was my mother.
I said, “Mom, what are the results?
Give it to me straight.”
My mother sat beside the bed and smoothed
the hair on my brow.
She smiled at me, but there were tiny
tears in her eyes.
That’s when the doctor burst in.
She was a swift and brusque
rake scratching fall leaves.
I could tell she was concerned.
She said, “Have you ever amputated your toes?”
I said, “No.” She said, “Let’s try that.”
I said, “Are there any other options?”
She said, “I don’t know,
I’ve never thought about it like that.”
But by then, my toes were in
a bloody pineapple sauce on the floor,
like little meatballs,
racing each other toward the door.
I cheered for the little toe.
I said to my mom, “I always root for the underdog.”
Author Discusses Poems