Checking for Lymph Node Involvement
“Lift your chin,” says the ultrasound technician,
Jennifer. “Are you comfortable?” she asks,
squirting a gob of lubricant on my throat.
“Not really,” I say, “Can I scoot back a little?”
and crumple the sterile paper beneath my hips.
“Sorry,” she says, “The machine can’t reach that far.”
“Turn your head away from me.”
Beginning below the tip of my chin, she glides
the ultrasound wand along the underside of my jaw.
Systematically pausing to frame shots,
she photographs the inside of my neck.
She is thorough, gentle.
The Doppler machine clicks and clicks.
“It’s relaxing,” Jennifer says, “isn’t it?”
I look at the ceiling with my eyes closed. “I suppose
that’s a way of looking at it.”
“I mean as far as tests go,” Jennifer says,
“Turn your head toward me.”
says the Doppler.
Everything Looks Good
Mopping lube off my throat,
I toss the sticky tissues in the trash
basket the ultrasound technician has dragged over.
“The doctor will be in to discuss your results in a moment.”
Dr. S. shakes our hands and leans back
against the cabinets. He gestures
to the photos in my file.
“Everything looks good,” he says.
“Good?” I say.
“Then what were those red masses we saw on-screen?”
“Blood supply,” he says.
“I’ll see you next year.”
My husband does a little jig
in the parking lot, while I bend forward to gag
into my hands. So, this is how
we wash up facedown on the shore.
Relief, it turns out, coming
in the form of nausea.
Tomorrow morning I will get up,
slice potatoes thinly, and
fry them up with onions
in a cast iron skillet. Tomorrow,
I’ll poach eggs for breakfast.
Today, I curl onto a couch
at water’s edge and sleep.
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