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Incidental Finding

Over five years my surgical scar has cooled

to a pale fault line, the slow tectonics of healing,

but this morning the doctor again unscrolls an x-ray,

points to a ghostlike wisp, and repeats the word mass,

scarier even than the word shark or the word missing.

But not scarier than malignant, from malign, to speak evil of.

I hear it in the hiss through aspens as I wait for pathology,

barefoot on a balcony in a hospital gown and overcoat.

Siblings of ill children skate to the lake’s bull’s-eye

and lie on their stomachs with their ears pressed to the ice.

They listen for the groans and bone-cracks of a body

of water frozen to its core. And with the weight of pike fishers

and ptarmigans, a capsized canoe, and the kids’ warm breaths

forecasting an inevitable spring, the ice refuses, even then, to break.

from Surgical WingFind more by Kristin Robertson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kristin Robertson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Kristin Robertson Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.