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Renato Rosaldo, Winner of the first MMM Poetry Online & in print Contest
In the hospital room
three TVs screech
their breaking news.
Neon lights gaze
on my sleepless night. One man,
once a jeweler, can’t move
his hands. His son grooms him,
snarls about traffic and exits.
The old man’s body curls
to a question mark, then,
Help, nurse, help me.
I unfurl into a waltz,
yearn for one more stanza,
but awaken into a heaviness that drags
the floor as I weave
toward the plastic urinal
at the foot of my bed.
I remember trouble
on a walk with Biscuit,
slanting into a slow tilt,
bent in a sideward bow,
how I wobbled
home for a healing sleep.
Caretakers reduce me
to a backless green gown, lift
me onto a gurney, catscan, MRI.
Then, in a basement room, lights glare,
green machines huddle around a monitor.
A white coat inserts
sonar camera, lets it slither down,
says, Swallow hard, assures
me I won’t suffocate.
in shards: I tie shoelaces, button
shirt, lift calf with my hands, aim
foot toward hollow pant leg.
Two days later when my tilt resumes
the doctor says I’ve had a stroke.
I tell him I’m afraid. He points
the way to Emergency and I walk
without a gyroscope.
Renato Rosaldo began writing poetry as “healing songs” in English and Spanish shortly after he suffered a stroke in 1996. He did not expect to become addicted to poetry. His first published poem appeared in Many Mountains Moving. His first book of poetry, Prayer to Spider Woman/Rezo a la mujer araña (2003, Saltillo, Mexico: Icocult) received an American Book Award, 2004. As a cultural anthropologist at New York University, he is the author of Culture and Truth.