2 A.M.


This is the hour most likely to be your last
and so each morning I am awakened
for the blood pressure cuff
which inflates around my arm
like the puffed sleeve of a girlhood
dress; for two fingers lightly resting
on my pulse where the wrist corsage
was tied by Paul Thompson
when he took me to the senior prom.
Its scent reached me all night
from where my arm rested on his shoulder
during the slow dances in the darkened cafeteria.
So strange to be dancing with a body
pressed up against your own,
to smell hair oil and soap
exhaled breath
more important than a name
stepping backwards through the waltz
for the stethoscope
which reaches discreetly
into my hospital gown
like the hand of a boy
reaching for my breast.


Amy Bartlett, 2004.