Quan Yin

by Abby Caplin

Doctors stethoscope for understanding the soul's transmission

A doctor only pretends to understand
the soul’s transmissions through the stethoscope,
the placement of bell and drum on bare chest,

simple human breath comingling with clicks
of worry, raspings of self-reproach, the unpredictable
beat of chronic confusion. The details don’t matter

when loneliness is undone,
and the siren I hear through the window reminds me
of that normal day when illness held me

upside down by my feet and slapped my behind,
until bright pennies of pain emptied me.
Misery comes cheap and to survive,

you must study those bangs of false belief about
who you are that blind your third eye,
make your hard pilgrimage from the realm

of nightmare into the space of a quiet room,
birdcalls and dogs barking in the distance.
Everyone who lives long enough slips into the pit,

even my neighbor, who screwed up his face
when I said Crohn’s disease, later stroked out,
and he did not merit my story, how I awoke

from my dying to another existence, where water
and sand cradled my feet, the gulls cried
to give comfort, and I sang the sea’s Om.

Category: Featured, Poetry