Tied down by tubes in my nose, neck, and arms,

I watch the second hand on the wall clock spin

like a slow-motion roulette wheel; when the minute

hand hits my number, I press the pain button.

I want to stand as soon as possible but know I can’t,

that like Gulliver, I’m washed up on a strange island.

I’m Frankenstein’s creature, one hand outstretched,

muttering inarticulate sounds.

But unlike his master, who sparked life, then fled,

my night nurse abides. When I croak like a raven,

she wets my lips and asks if, in the morning, I want

a sponge bath. I do. First the bath and then I’ll stand,

I think again and again, until she comes in, asks

if the water is warm enough, and starts to work her way

down my body.

Yes, I say, and thank you, which is not enough

in this shockingly foreign country where everyone’s pain

is equal and you’re always at the front of the line.