Friday, December 26, 2008


I have a friend write a note in Chinese explaining that eight days ago I had hernia surgery and the stitches need to be removed. Rather than go back to Shanghai, where I had the surgery, or trek an hour across town to the nearest hospital, I decide to check out a local health clinic.

sodden moonbeams
the smeared arc of dust
on the windshield

My wife and I pull up outside a clinic near a popular restaurant. I’m soon flat on my back behind a small partition, my shirt pulled up under my chin. There’s a video in English with Chinese subtitles about abortion playing on the other side, where two men on IV drips cough weakly and occasionally moan.

winter chill
the ping of stitches
in a metal pan

Within ten minutes, and for less than five dollars, I’m ready for dinner. The pharmacist, who also functions as nurse and cashier, laughs at my Chinese name and tells me to take it easy. The doctor waves goodbye with a pair of scissors.

the waiter’s gaze—
removing fish bones
with chopsticks

by Bob Lucky
Hangzhou, China

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