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LAce Posted Monday, November 3rd, 2003
Revision Process
Sabine Boucher

She said stand back
from the smoke of my gun
Iím goiníta see that gambler die.

—One version of The Ballad of Frankie and Johnnie

Dear Dr. Davis,

Iím writing to relay both good
and bad news. The bad
is that the plantar warts did come back
in full glory, despite the acid injections,
enzymatic peels, laser surgery
and finally the comfortable disclaimer,
a latest theory that the virus
hibernates for years . . .

Although that part, at least, might be right—
for since you last straddled the stool
at my sore feet held aloft
by the mechanical chair, (as if kneeling,
your finger slipping under my knee
my heel fitting just in the crook
of your elbow as your other hand
pressed the button to tilt the chairís
neck back, pelvis forward),

Iíve traveled the world,
learned guitar and have at last
given birth to a strapping daughter
but never married, and it was when
she struggled pinkly and gasped
on my breast, never quitting, that I thought
to write you, to tell you the good,

which is, the warts have gone
away again. I have rid my own feet
of them forever, in fact, at the suggestion
of someone else, who simply said,
my dear, change your shoes.
You wonít even know me.

And oh, I donít blame you
for the time wasted in your not arriving
at this simple deduction—
I donít even have to forgive you,
or tell you my thriving daughterís name,
and I wonít even slander yours
in the medical school halls Ė
I know you loved me. I was your worst case.

And thereís really no reason
to even tell you all this, Dr. Davis.
But the question is, might I call you James?—
is that what if there is no answer, no cure for us
in the end. You will make something up,
and thatís the subtle difference, between us—
why Iíll always almost believe you,
and always prove you wrong.


Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Amanda French [ ] on Monday, November 3rd, 2003 at 11:32 AM
Oh, I love this. Really dramatizes the difference between authoritative judgements about our lives and the inner realities of them. I don't quite follow the syntax in the middle of the last stanza, though, in the lines But the question is, might I call you James?ó is that what if there is no answer, no cure for us in the end. I think that's supposed to be another dash before "might," so that the "might I call you James?") is truly parenthetical. I might suggest putting it in parentheses and getting rid of the dash, like so: But the question is (might I call you James?): what if there is no answer, no cure for us in the end? Though I like the repeated "is"--very spoken diction, very Elizabeth Bishop. Great stuff. Who knew Megan could write dramatic monologues?

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