the nurse takes my temperature before
I’m allowed in, scrunches her face
into a budding flower, then laughs
and says, well according to this you’re cold
enough to be clinically dead.
I smile back. I could have told her that.
I scan myself for metal, cataloguing
my bare ear lobes, my loose jumper
and leggings, unadorned by poppers, zips,
necklace or rings. I feel oddly naked,
basic, newly made, like a child again
without the armour of jewellery.
On the table I am bland dough, suet
coloured and lumpen, knees up, feet
together, ready to slide into the oven
and rise in its heat. I imagined beforehand
that I would be like a hero of old,
descend to the underworld
through a full moon shaped cave glowing
with watery light, return with all the answers.
But now I am here, moving, as much as I tell myself
I’m in the posture we relax in at the end
of a yoga class, all I can think of is a coffin
vanishing behind the curtain.
They asked me how I managed not to panic,
how I remained still as a cadaver
on a mortuary slab. I wondered why
they thought dread built its nest in death,
not in the unfathomable branches of pain
red as a summer sunset.