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Passing Out Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 10

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The doctor fingers my bruise.

"Magnificent," he says, "black

at the edges and purple

cored." Seated, he spies for clues,

gingerly probing the slack

flesh, while I, standing, fazed, pull

for 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 my

secrets common and my sex

neither objectionable

nor lovely, though he is on

the hunt for significance.

The shelved cutlery twinkles

behind glass, and I am on

the way out, "an instance

of the succumbed through extreme

fantasy." He is alarmed

at last, and would raise me, but

I am floorward in a dream

of lowered trousers, unarmed

and weakly fighting to shut

the window of my drawers.

There are others in the room,

voices of women above

white oxfords; and the old floor,

the friendly linoleum,

departs. I whisper, "my love,"

and am safe, tabled, sniffing

spirits of ammonia

in the land of my fellows.

"Open house!" my openings

sing: pores, nose, anus let go

their charges, a shameless flow

into the outer world;

and the ceiling, equipped with

intelligence, surveys my

produce. The doctor is thrilled

by my display, for he is half

the slave of necessity;

I, enormous in my need,

justify his sciences.

"We have alternatives," he

says, "Removal..." (And my blood

whitens as on their dull trays

the tubes dance. I must study

the dark bellows of the gas

machine, the painless maker.)

"...and learning to live with it."

Oh, but I am learning fast

to live with any pain, ache,

growth to keep myself intact;

and in imagination

I hug my bruise like an old

Pooh Bear, already attuned

to its moods. "Oh, my dark one,

tell of the coming of cold

and of Kings, ancient and ruined."


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