Dance With Me
I stand waiting.
The palms of my hands face my chest.
Water drips from my elbows to the ground.
I feel like a beggar in the rain.
The resident in front of me
looks over his back to warn me
to Stand Back.
He has a stern look on his face.
Finally, the scrub nurse hands me a towel.
I dry my fingers meticulously,
wondering who invented this procedure.
Did he suffer from OCD?
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?
(I realize that I am too close)
DON’T GET NEAR THE INSTRUMENTS!
Now it is the attending’s turn.
He is a tall black man,
Distinguished — probably about 50 years old.
He will also take part in this communal ablution.
He puts on his gown,
and in a booming baritone
tells the other nurse to put on some music.
She turns on the radio.
We hear a plaintive love song.
“Not that.” He says, “I need some rhythm in here.”
He winks at me for approval.
I can’t help but smile.
The nurse offers to turn the attending.
“Oh! Are we going to dance together now?”
She grabs hold of the tag on his gown
and he does a graceful turn
without overstepping the boundaries
of his masculinity.
I smile again.
I wonder if the resident is smiling.
Out of the corner of my eye,
I look at him.
His eyes seem sharp, narrow, focused.
No. I do not think he is smiling.
We rest our hands on the patient’s limp body.
“Begin cutting,” says the attending.
The resident makesthe first incision.
“You’re not cutting a cake, doctor!”
The resident puts more pressure on the knife.
“This is an O.R., not the culinary institute!”
The peel away layers of fat and fascia together.
At times, I retract the skin
so they can reach a particular blood vessel or organ.
They locate the organ to be removed:
A humongous uterus filled
with growths called fibroids.
Drenched in blood.
It looks like a red monster
with five noses.
“It’s been a hard day’s night,
And I’ve been workin’ like a dog…”
The atttending serenades the monster
before giving it to the nurse.
The monster peers out at us from a jar
as we put the body back together.
I staple the two flaps of skin,
making sure they are aligned properly.
I am happy to have contributed something, finally.
The monster winks at me too.