four stories with doctors
by Omar ZahZah
Mama went First—the Eyes got Sunk, the Skin fell Back; soon she seemed like just Bones. Then it was Papa and the Little Ones too. And just like that, Whatever it Was spread All Over, All Over the Town, so that All Over the Town were the Sunk Eyes and the Seeming like just Bones.
Then the Doctor came. The Doctor came to Town. He was not too Young. He wore dark Specs and His Coat was long and white He had almost no Hair; He could not smile, He carried a little black Book. He never Flinched.
Line Up the Doctor barked all of you one and all.
They all came Out. Young and Old, Short and Tall, Fat . . .
The Sunk Eyes, the Seeming . . .
The Doctor grabbed a young Face, the Doctor Squeeeezed the Cheeks /pulled it Close.
Ah the Doctor said Ah the Maxilla.
He threw aside the young Face He grabbed one Older:
Ah . . . Ah the Vomer.
One slightly Younger:
Ah the Mandible.
The Doctor made Notes in the Book.
Now the Doctor said now Listen. Now the Word about all of you came to me, to very far away. Now you must know. You must not only know but you must Know. Do you understand? Or, Understand?
Listen. You feel it, I know. The Ultimate Undoing will not be met like this.
The Doctor opened the Book. He said:
For I am also a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.
The Doctor called up Mama. He nailed to the Wall her Hands, Mama was all Quiet.
Without a Smile the Doctor said to Papa Dance a bit
but it was most like shaking Bones this Dance.
And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.
He wrote in the Book some more, the Eyes got Sunk for Good. Then it was all Bones.
Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me He sang like a screaming Chicken. He poked at some of the Bones, He did not take Any.
All as it Should have Been.
A Brother and a Sister were talking.
They like you Better, said the Sister,
meaning the Parents.
Do not, said the Brother.
Do so, said the Sister,
Today was the fourth time
I didn’t get to eat.
And sometimes, when they look at me . . .
The Brother was Older,
the Brother knew What To Do.
Let’s go to the Doctor, the Brother said.
He will have
After the Brother and Sister
the Doctor nodded,
a solution fresh
in his Eyes.
A common enough Problem, the Doctor said,
and Easily Treatable.
Now hop up here, the Doctor said.
The Doctor pointed
at the Brother:
with You . . .
The Doctor switched
all of the Bones
in their Bodies.
It did not take
When the Doctor had Finished,
the Sister’s Skin
looked propped up
by so many Points
cutting thru— Sharply
and the Brother’s
They got Home
just in time
Once all were seated,
the Mother nodded
to the Father
who then stood up
and led the Brother
out of the Room.
The Mother and the Sister
ate in Silence.
When the Father came Back
and began eating,
the Sister said,
Where is my Brother?
Now that we have finished,
the Mother said,
you may have
A Man rushed in
to a Doctor’s Office.
Doctor Doctor said the Man
I’ve had this terrible Headache
for three Days.
is Unbearable. I’ve never felt Anything
quite so bad.
Do you have
any Allergies? asked the Doctor.
No said the Man.
Good said the Doctor.
The Doctor broke
the Man’s Arm
in three Places.
As for me
said the Doctor
I’m deathly allergic
Everything else being exhausted, it was time for a new Game.
The Game was Auntie’s idea. She looked down on the Bed, at the boy’s eyes-turning-holes, at the kidney basin to the left, opposite the arm with the IV.
Auntie pointed to the basin.
Auntie said How many colors.
Auntie said Guess.
The Mother was there, the Sister too.
The Mother guessed Three, the sister Three too, then no wait four.
From the bed: a weakened sigh.
Auntie didn’t Guess. Auntie was the Judge.
Auntie took the basin. Auntie looked inside.
It was Three. The Boy had coughed up Three different colors in three days—yellow, clear, and red. The Doctor had said Red would be from “dryness and irritation of the throat.”
Sister said that wasn’t Fair, she didn’t remember the Warning.
Mother said that’s why you always had to listen close.
No no Auntie said
you have to use
The Game was Fun.
It was time for something Else.
The Mother pulled out a tape measure.
The Mother wrapped the tape around the Boy’s right arm.
Little less today, said the Mother.
The Mother let the arm Go,
a jaunty klak ensuing—
The Doctor strolled in with a Whistle. Auntie liked the Doctor, especially today: the sunburned skull and the too-tight swim trunks, still dripping.
The Doctor winked at Auntie, nodded at the Mother and Sister.
How’s it today the Doctor asked.
Little less Today said the Mother.
Yes. Expect that to keep on said the Doctor.
Tried everything, nothing’ll take. I’m sure you understand said the Doctor.
Yes said Auntie, smiling and not knowing.
Yes said the Mother.
But something must be done.
Ah said the Doctor.
A pat at the sunburned skull, a guilty twinge of puffy cheeks.
Yes of course said the Doctor.
I’ll see what I—
Now now cut in Auntie.
Leave him out of this.
Don’t trouble the poor man, overworked as he is Auntie said, half-apologetic
looking at the Doctor.
I have a new Idea.
All turned to Auntie.
I predict Auntie said
he keeps on for two months.
The Mother understood.
I say four the Mother said.
The Sister laughed, knowing at last.
Two and a half weeks said the Sister
sticking out her Tongue.
Very Good very Good said the Doctor.
That’s about right, yes.
From the bed: a weakened sigh.
In the End, Auntie’s patience
was most Exhausted.
contributor 2014 first edition
Omar ZahZah is a writer, activist, and scholar. His work has appeared in such publications as Poetic Diversity, RipRap and Westwind. “Death Went Into The Place,” the first installment of Death, a webcomic on which he is collaborating with fine artist and graphic novelist Eliza Frye (and which may be viewed at www.deathcomic.com), appeared in Narrative. Several of his poems were featured in the anthology Beside The City of Angels: An Anthology of Long Beach Poetry.
He is currently a PhD student in Comparative Literature at UCLA.