Green Hills Literary Lantern



No! Not That!



The doctor says to take off my clothes. My clothes don’t come off in front of anyone, not even my wife. They’re very particular. They’d be embarrassed for me. And I appreciate their discretion. The doctor wants to look for things on my skin that might be cancer. I might bare my skin to the sun, but not to the doctor. Of course I don’t bare my skin to the sun anymore. I hide inside my clothes. It’s better that way for everyone. I’m a five-car pileup on the interstate. I’m a tree shrouded in fog. I’m a winter storm that closes the airport, the view from the window like static on your high-definition TV. I’m the rock slide blocking the coast highway. The doctor tells me not to be embarrassed, she does this twenty-four times a day, every 20 minutes for eight hours a day. This does not help, even after I’ve removed my shirt and returned it to the snow melt that used to be a snow man, even after I’ve lowered my easy-on, easy-off gym pants, the ones with the swoosh. Her hands, the only part of her that I can see besides her face, are purple. Don’t touch that, I want to say, and she touches it, looking right, looking left, and then she’s on to the rear. I want to scream, but I don’t. I’ll be coming back in 3 to 6 months. That’s what they do to people who’ve had skin cancer, but she won’t be here. She’s got lots of good colleagues and in the meantime she’ll be adding another child to her collection. She’s got one, a 3-year-old, already. I try not to think about another visit. I try not to think about cancer. I am a one-man golf cart delivering my rider to the dinner table three times a day.




Lee Rossi is a winner of the Jack Grapes Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Steve Kowit Prize. His latest book is Darwin’s Garden, from Moon Tide Press.  Recent poems appear in The Southwest Review, Rattle, Spillway, The Chiron Review and The Southern Review.  He is a member of the Northern California Book Reviewers and a Contributing Editor to Poetry Flash.