Nadia Kim (Deakin University, Australia)
He sits facing his screen
typing with index fingers
(maybe “nursey”, as he called her,
usually does the typing).
He sprays words my way.
It doesn’t seem to fit.
It is an enlargement,
relatively. Your relative,
genetically. Your genetics,
I recognise some nouns:
headache, medication, office worker. And
some verbs: you will do, you must,
to clean, to inspect, to fetch.
But mostly, I just hear
the particles and
adverbs, the meaningless,
that provide context and nuance
that I don’t have.
Inflammation of a viral infection. No, no, you
misunderstand. Of a virus. Histo-
bilateral, yaw abrasions and
contusions, crusted ulcers, deep fistula,
and small developed membranes of the
hands and nose, in any characterised
of the liver, and constipation. Contact
your healthcare provider.
I open my mouth to ask him
to repeat what he said. If I
could hear it just one more time,
I think I could grasp a few more words. And
sometimes when you ask people to repeat
themselves and they look at the shape of your eyes and
the marks on your skin, they
take pity, and speak
simply, and slowly.
But the door to the waiting room
is already open.
blares the next patient’s number.
With lymphatic, and vulvovaginal, and
other undiagnosed intestinal dementia. Which,
given the population, is
Acquaintance fever; acute,
sweating specialists. Roughly:
fluid secretions, second-hand secretions,
vessels, capillary secretions.
I am called to the admin counter
to pay, the cashier
gives me an information sheet with a date and time written in
spidery text. And I recognise the days of the week
and some of the
printed words, like
MRI and health insurance card.
When I start to ask her if
the MRI can be on
a Friday (because
I can’t get a Tuesday
off work), she
cuts me off and repeats my
total fee, thinking
understood the intimidating numbers.
Nadia Kim is a poet and editor living mostly on Ngunnawal Country. Her writing has been published in Cordite, Querelle, and Visible Ink, among others. She is currently completing an MA in Writing and Literature at Deakin University, and is the managing editor for The Better Because Project. Nadia’s website can be found here.