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Passing Out Analysis



Author: Poetry of Philip Levine Type: Poetry Views: 146

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On The Edge1963The doctor fingers my bruise."Magnificent," he says, "blackat the edges and purplecored." Seated, he spies for clues,gingerly probing the slackflesh, while I, standing, fazed, pullfor air, losing the battle.Faced by his aged diploma,the heavy head of the X-ray, and the iron saddle,I grow lonely. He finds mysecrets common and my sexneither objectionablenor lovely, though he is onthe hunt for significance.The shelved cutlery twinklesbehind glass, and I am onthe way out, "an instanceof the succumbed through extremefantasy." He is alarmedat last, and would raise me, butI am floorward in a dreamof lowered trousers, unarmedand weakly fighting to shutthe window of my drawers.There are others in the room,voices of women abovewhite oxfords; and the old floor,the friendly linoleum,departs. I whisper, "my love,"and am safe, tabled, sniffingspirits of ammoniain the land of my fellows."Open house!" my openingssing: pores, nose, anus let gotheir charges, a shameless flowinto the outer world;and the ceiling, equipped withintelligence, surveys myproduce. The doctor is thrilledby my display, for he is halfthe slave of necessity;I, enormous in my need,justify his sciences."We have alternatives," hesays, "Removal..." (And my bloodwhitens as on their dull traysthe tubes dance. I must studythe dark bellows of the gasmachine, the painless maker.)"...and learning to live with it."Oh, but I am learning fastto live with any pain, ache,growth to keep myself intact;and in imaginationI hug my bruise like an oldPooh Bear, already attunedto its moods. "Oh, my dark one,tell of the coming of coldand of Kings, ancient and ruined."






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