red cardinal perched on a bare branch
[ This image is in the public domain. ]

The Hokey Pokey

My doctor has jumped ship, going into private practice.
Very private, since I don’t know where he’s going.
“My blood pressure’s up,” I tell Christi, the sixteen-
year-old nurse practitioner assigned to me.
“Can you call in a new prescription and order bloodwork?
Oh, and don’t forget to test my PSI, please.”
Christi looks at me, shirtless on the table, and says,
“You mean your PSA, prostate-specific antigen.”
Above her mask, green eyes smile.

PSI is the reading you get at the Marathon station air pump.
But considering the tire I’ve added to my middle,
Christi should probably order a PSI test, too. As for the questions
I had to answer on the tablet when I checked in,
Do you feel depressed? Have you recently experienced
any feelings of hopelessness? Do you have trouble sleeping?

Give me a break. Who doesn’t? Who hasn’t?
And when was the last time you slept eight hours?
No, No, No, I answered.

By now we’ve reached the part of the poem
where you’re expecting the bright red cardinal
that perches in a leafless tree on a bleak winter day
to shake me off the barren branch on which I’ve landed.
But I’m sorry, he doesn’t shake me off my branch.
I’m more likely to mention the opossum couple,
Harry and Harriet, who munch on fallen seeds
each night beneath our bird feeders. One night,
my wife and I were watching Harry and Harriet when,

given how Harry seems to largely ignore Harriet,
I questioned his—spell along with me now—
l-i-b-i-d-o, only I pronounced it “li-bido,”
accent on the li, short i, instead of li-BEE-do. Well,
I wish you could have been there. If DeeGee’s PSI
had read thirty-two pounds per square inch before I said li-bido,
it would have read fifteen by the time she finished laughing.
If she had had a tire pressure monitoring system,
her light would have been flashing.

In truth, I laughed, too. There we were, the two of us
shaking with laughter as our cat ran out of the room.
But when I finished laughing, I felt good. Very good.
Nothing wrong with my li-bido. In conclusion,
when you put your right foot in—your mouth, in this instance—
shake it all about. Turn yourself around. Then,
(what are you waiting for?) put your whole self in.
And when you do, notice all the people with their whole selves in,
turning themselves around, shaking all about.

That’s what it’s all about.