An old man
with his head split
open, like an overly-ripe
papaya in the village market. The cut is neat,
straight, precise; as if planned
by a surgeon or architect armed
with x-acto knife. Now the rusty metal
of the village signpost is smeared with this man’s
blood; he just wanted to buy some
tomatoes. I bought tomatoes yesterday.
This could be my head
and body in the dim hospital room, my
coagulated blood like acrylic paint
pooling on the cratered cement. The patient
lays with eyes open, in polite disbelief
as the doctor sutures his head
shut. He is thinking, “I did not imagine
my day to end like this.” His problems
this morning were so
insignificant. Nothing
compares to the problem of:
“my head is open.” “I need more
light,” the doctor announces.
Wooden windows are thrown open and
sunlight warms the grey
walls and surgical bed. Villagers peer
through the window, their interested heads
bobbing in curiosity. Even the chicken
hops onto the windowsill
for a better view.
I stretch my neck and count
my days left in Madagascar,
remember to be
careful in the marketplace.