The Shape of the Known Universe

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After Sirens

triage and questions, a stretcher
and the littoral cadences of emergency.

Voices, soft and sharp, whisk
between a young man’s
lacerations and an old woman

drowsing under a grey bob
on a cart in a corridor while

her husband shifts weight
foot to foot beside her.

A nurse draws my blood,
her phone vibrating—yet another
procedure, another admit–

yet another crisis to be managed
and charted by name and code.

She murmurs as though in some
stark sleep. A delicate girl

in the negative pressure room
waits–we all wait–

for meds. A slurred boy
is wheeled in after swallowing
all the pills he could find.

So many contusions, so many
aging cells, so many ways

in the well-lit and timeless night
for a body to come unmoored.

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