after the awkwardness
of the fluorescent waiting room
nervous strangers
mostly pretending  
with civil inattention
the others don’t exist
each wondering
why are they here?
one might have cancer
another compressed vertebrae
the other a mysterious headache
why am I here?
being called
not quite the recognition
I often hoped for
escorted to a room
removing metal
getting less dressed
more vulnerable
sliding into a pod
lying on my back
so still, don’t move
a little itch, don’t scratch
another thought, don’t worry
but what else is there to do?
my little meditation hut
with weird industrial music
the sounds of science
(at least to me)
probing my innards
finding its prey
I’m trying to relax
“are you OK?”
a voice asks
but I don’t know how to answer
without reciting the litany
without giving context
without breaking down
“I’m fine”
part truth, part lie
isn’t that the nature of manners and tact?
it’s almost over
then sliding out
getting vertical
getting redressed
what does it mean?
nothing is revealed
that’s for another time
another visit
another room
another professional
for now
it only means
whatever we decide it means
and for now
it means
I’m right here
still me
very much alive
and grateful

Dan Brook teaches in the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State University, from where he organizes the Hands on Thailand program. His most recent books are Harboring Happiness: 101 Ways To Be Happy (Beacon, 2021), Sweet Nothings (Hekate, 2020), about the nature of haiku and the concept of nothing, and Eating the Earth: The Truth About What We Eat (Smashwords, 2020).