Poetry Issue 15

   Issue #17 : July-December 2012

Mary Jo Bang



A Calculation Based on Figures in a Scene


      There are still many marvels, you know.
      The festivals on Fridays. The divider
      in the center of the wasteland.
      On this side—flesh; on that—an iron claw

      and a new-made screw
      fallen from the factory window
      at noon. The doll doctor pushes the arm
      back into the socket. "There," he says.

      Day is done. He wishes he could smoke
      but he gave that up long ago.
      The rubber sole of the nurse's right shoe
      makes a squeak when she reaches the room.

      Silence surrounds the empty bed.
      The body is elsewhere.
      "When they want more," she says, "I give it."
      "When they want less," she says,

      "I take it away. I always let them choose."
      The doctor drums his fingers
      on the doll's flat abdomen. A sea of blood
      moves back and forth to a song of no mercy.



      (Originally appeared in Kenyon Review and used by permission of the author.)