6 September 2007 | Vol. 7, No. 3

stage one


each stage marks what is to be removed.

the order of the disease begins with the uterus,

ends with the body. some women lose more than me,

the uterus, the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, it's good

he says that it was caught early enough. he speaks

with the ease that implies that the body is nothing

more complex than the limbless, trapdoored models

that decorate biology classrooms. the surgery will work

like this: he will unhinge the skin that covers my stomach,

excavate the plastic organs one by one,

placing them carefully in a row on the table until

he's found the one that's flawed. those attending will expect

him to raise it high enough for everyone to see clearly

while he explains that here the cancer is born. points

to where it's cultivated as a cyst—the body fighting itself

until it loses or we intervene, he will say. words of congratulation

will be passed around as he jiggles each part solidly back into place,

then he'll shut the door of my stomach. the seam is an empty scar.


in her garage, my biddy aunt had a skeleton

that I'd play with as a child, a medical one

she'd purchased before giving up on medicine.

by the size of it and the structure of the bones,

it likely belonged to a small girl. when I was a girl,

I treated it like a doll, telling it stories

while it stood inside its pressboard box

and listened. skeleton girl, I have no more stories

but here is a memory. my aunt hung Indian corn

around the edges of your box. while I've been

listening to the doctor I've started wondering

if I could find the color of this, no, my tumor

hidden somewhere among those kernels.

skeleton girl, what do you wonder about?


he's still talking. I understand him too,

the jargon isn't meant to explain

the unimportant factors like

why I'm wearing a paper dress

or why they've asked me to sit alone

in this dark room for the past hour

and twelve minutes waiting for my results,

when my husband is only a few yards away,

sitting in the lobby also waiting for those results.

the jargon marks me with an X

which only the surgeon can see

which will relay the simple message:

dig here.


The TV is on when I wake up and I check the curve of my stomach

with my hands before looking at it. Touch its seraphic flatness.

I ask my husband to search for the nurse, partially expecting

to be handed a pink blanket, my plastic fetus wrapped tightly inside.

About the author:

Jamison is a Rogers Fellow at the University of Arizona.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Jamison T. Crabtree at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 7, No. 3, where "stage one" ran on September 6, 2007. List other work with these same labels: poetry, unpublished writers.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

copyright © 2001-2011
XHTML // CSS // 508