The Purple Rose


My preceptor swept into the room
His wide girth ensheathing a proportionally large heart
Mrs. G. lay atop the table in a paper gown
That fluttered in response to her breaths
At his request, her ample thighs parted
And a mahogany expanse was revealed
Out thrust between her thighs lay a
Dusky Purple Rose, with succulent blooming petals
Technically, her labia minora were redundant,
An anatomical anomaly –
They curved and ruffled and folded outwards
Appearing as a blossom greeting the sun
Instead of radiant rays or her lover’s gaze,
the rose is met by
a hard, translucent, plastic speculum
My preceptor lubricates the speculum
With smooth, swift strokes
And slides it into her vagina
We peer together at her inflamed vagina
Raindrops of scarlet splattered on a vivid pink horizon
I’d say Trychtamonas, he said as he swabs her depths
Onto a slide and a test tube
Now it’s your turn.
My hands gloved, the fingers lubricated,
My fingers hover above the rose,
hesitant to delve within
frightened, reluctant, I pry apart the petals
and cautiously my two fingers intrude into
the moist, tight passageway,
the repository of her intimate secrets
reserved for lovers and infants
My trespass burns me with each centimeter
midway past my proximal phalanges, I stop
and turn to his smiling face, recognizing
this experience to be a gift from Mrs. G. and him,
yet a gift of which I feel unworthy
In a side whisper, i confess, i don’t know what i am doing
just slide in, he coaxes, while i withdraw my fingers
did you feel a cervix he asks,
overwhelmed, I nod
she has had a hysterectomy, her cervix has been removed
he smiles at me, not cruel, not even chiding, just urging me
to release these bonds of propriety and learn
I nod again.
He asked Mrs. G. to please dress while we would soon return with the lab results.
He bathed the slide sample in saline and capped it with a coverslip
Sure enough under the microscope,
translucent trychtamonas swam across the field,
beautiful and thriving in an unwelcome host.
On our way to share the results with Mrs. G.,
He said to me with a smile,
You must always pretend you know what you’re doing –
that’s a tip.
My excellent doctor, mentor and friend
whose knowledge had helped Mrs. G.
more than my tentativenes and “sensitivity” ever could
had acknowledged the great truth –
to be an imposter is one of the terms of the apprenticeship
that begins upon donning the white coat.
How is it that within two minutes of meeting her
Her intimate secrets are thus shared?
What had I done to merit such power and responsiblity?
And yet, it’s pointless to quake at the entrance of the temple
A reverence greater is to
Enter its sanctum and make its secrets one’s own.

Kani Ilangovan, Class of 2003