The Neurologist & Me

by Jeremy Radin

We are standing on my father’s chest, just inside of the crater, between the gray
& mangled trees. I, in a ballgown of hopeful pink roses. She, a ballgown of frost.
With each word she speaks, a petal falls. Her hair, everywhere, an angel moving
always away from her head—wild, purple angel. My father, breathing. The sound
& the sound of machines. I ask the same question over & over. Each time, her face
changes direction. She is not lying. In order to lie, something must be true, but you
knew that already because you’re smart because of your brain. Sometimes she is
taller than I am. Sometimes she speaks from the center of a fog & I am the fog—
as she speaks the fog darkens, or separates, or each distinct particle is an anchor
convinced it is doing its job. My father had just been sitting in his chair. That was
a thing my father did. & drove. & worked. & golf, three times a week. Will he wake?
My petals fall. I don’t understand the circumstance, but we marry, the neurologist
& me, though she is many years my senior, though she has a husband back home,
though I’ve been bestowed my father’s facility for solitude—which explains why
miles above, in the dark white room, no wife sits over him, weeping or not weeping,
thinking about bread or heaven or, of course, though she mustn’t, inheritance, this
wife who isn’t here, hasn’t been here for 20 years, which is why it’s me standing with
a flummoxed doctor in the coarse forest of my father’s chest hair, the crater beneath
our feet, beneath which my father’s heart did what it did: ate a black hole like a fist-
ful of pills, dragged itself back into itself—I feel it as I lie facedown, as the neurologist
speaks in her language of no particular language. The neurologist, my wife, marriage
arranged by a moment, moment arranged by reckless genetics, a flair for carelessness,
cigarettes & pizza & no one to cradle the organ in her hands at the end of each day, day
in which perhaps his son has stolen money from his wallet or his daughter has clogged
the kitchen sink with vomit, day in which a kiss is remembered the way an artifact is
remembered: as something entombed in the earth, underneath the heart & thinking,
underneath the sun & medicine, down within the darkened soil we entrust with what
becomes of us, our longing to at last be soft, be green, be still, be wilderness.

Jeremy Radin is a poet, actor, and teacher. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Grist, Cosmonauts Avenue, Nailed, Sidekick Lit, Sundog Lit, Union Station, Winter Tangerine, and elsewhere. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Slow Dance with Sasquatch (Write Bloody Publishing, 2012) and Dear Sal (not a cult press, 2017). He lives in Los Angeles with his four plants and refrigerator. Follow him @germyradin