I press the button, and a scaffold of screws and pins uncouples from my shattered pelvis,
and leaks away like steam.
And when I wake, the sun has rearranged its buttery geometries on the walls and carpet,
on the little nightstand where the nurses place a tiny cup of water every hundred years
The moans and mechanical pings pick up exactly where they left off, which is how Pain
tells time, swelling as it does so, until my body becomes its shadow.
Aside from this button, the only medicine is Spangle the therapy pony, making his rounds
with burgundy ribbons braided into his mane, his long hair the same color as the
hamster I had as a boy.
There’s a brush to brush him if you’d like, and a special pouch covering his cock and
anus so he won’t soil the carpets,
and when I wake, I can smell the chamomile he’s scented with.
Room by room each moan forgets to happen, and Pain doesn’t know what to attach to,
and one after another, hands sink into Spangle’s hair as if searching beneath the
cushions of a sofa for something irreplaceable.
I press the button, and when I wake I remember that goat from the Day of
Atonement, from Leviticus, the one for carrying what we can’t endure, the original
blueprint for Spangle
who saves a place for Pain alongside our bed pans and catheters as he saunters out of the
desert of our lives.
For Yahweh, this happened once a year, but for us, every Tuesday and Thursday, 11 to
And when I wake, he’s nuzzling my left hand, watching me with his hamster eyes, and
when I press the button he’s bearing it all away with a flourish of burgundy and
cantering out to a place where there’s a river, and a single tree kneeling toward the bank,
where he coaxes Pain from his back, nudging it, gently, toward a little cot waiting
under the branches.
I press the button and I’m walking along that river bank, embarrassed and afraid, trying
to cope with this new hitch and swivel my pelvis demands,
but Spangle’s right beside me, not more than an arm’s length away, which is enough to
depend on without depending on it, which is enough to balance the sprawl of the clock
and calendar counting themselves into darkness,
and when I make it to the tree, I can hear the river pattering softly, the leaves chiming in
as the breeze picks up, and Pain barely stirs from its little cot, mumbling in its sleep as
Matt Yurdana’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals, and his awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and the C. Hamilton Bailey Fellowship from Literary Arts. His book of poems, Public Gestures, was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. He lives in Portland, Oregon.2