Ordinary Mornings

Nov 23, 2018

Homeless men in Chinatown doorways flick cigarettes and cough, while a dozen nurses forge into Beach Street winter...

 

Homeless men in Chinatown

doorways flick cigarettes and cough,

while a dozen nurses forge

into Beach Street winter

for first shift at The Mecca,

just like the fifty year old

morning my parents trudged

this route toward Harrison Avenue

and the doctor who diagnosed

my father’s symptoms. So strange

to sit inside Great Taste Bakery

and sip jasmine tea, gaze at the street

sensing the present past-

steamed dumplings on my plate,

my father at this table long ago

pouring soy sauce into wonton soup,

letting me stumble on names

of his medications and diagnosis,

his patient repetition of each syllable

until I owned them, a ten-year-old doctor

in training, too young to understand

how words like dexamethasone

and autoimmune hemolytic anemia

become a sentence, that I’d grow up

to become a physician fluent

in five syllable terms, pronouncing

them to patients with pure authority

on the worst mornings of their lives,

mornings grown so ordinary to me.

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