From A Gurney In The New York Methodist Hospital
Once, he floated parallel over a gurney
in the New York Methodist Hospital ER with a body hijacked by electricity.
He was one out of only a handful of people, to survive a strike of lightning.
He’d been driving to his girlfriend’s at the time,
She was beautiful;
she was completely new to him.
He caused her unhappiness when he didn’t show that night and she found a cure for it beneath someone else.
It’s not like you think,
not a long hand like God’s
cracking life in the wind.
The mistake was in stepping out of the car
and the slow reveal of a bolt
carrying with it a white noise
and a burn that drew out every capillary along his back landing him 20 feet away. He could have come close to
the secret things inside the hardware of the universe
and received the bad news from the future.
He could warn natives before they started screaming about enemies built like horses. He’d heard such things were typical after humans are hit by accidents of nature
It wasn’t the case with him.
Afterwards, he stumbled over his feet,
saw two of everything,
even his sense of taste
let him down,
extinct alongside ancient things,
or traveled up
to become lighting.
It was a traveling zoo, with not much in the way of animals besides the rare macaw, the last male of his kind
and their chimpanzee.
I forget the chimp’s name,
but the cheeks on his face were as big as tumors. He had a fondness for cigarettes
and this habit drew a crowd.
Visitors threw lit cigarettes into his cage. He gathered them together in a corner, breathing lights into each one.
Mostly there was laughter and applause. A woman pushing a stroller said,
“I want to teach him to brush my hair
a hundred strokes on each side.”
There was no cure I knew of for how his teeth arranged in a painful smile,
so I went home and thought
about the small things that keep us alive.
Like the cigarette fluttering in the hands
and the practice,
the daily practice of waiting for palm trees
to bow down
and explain what other ways there are to live.
AMY ROA lives in Brooklyn, New York. She received an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. She writes poetry, trains dogs, and dreams of elephants.