Dreaming of Whales

by Aislyn Gilbert

I wave goodbye to the freckled nurse as the
gaping mouth of the MRI machine swallows me up.
Headphoned, blanketed, numb from the waist down,
"Oh, no, the cold isn't bothering me, ma'am,
Thank you,"
Ballooning button pump in my palm, ready for pushing
Tip to toe vibrating with nerves, with noise, with buzzing,
Closing my eyes to push the dizzying din out...
Humming hammering to bubbles in the belly of a
Humpback, filtered through baleen with the rest of the tiniest,
up to my gills in hazy, waving water dreams
but a snapped spine can't swim,
always drowning face-down in the
shallowest current, prey for even the
Building pressure up through lungs that pops
as a headache, ruptures a disc, ruins a life--
For a while.
Nurse sharks in lab coats skim the bottom sand
Vials in hand, fins brown freckle-tanned
where I lay, weary, sweating, staying
Bubbles to buzzing to humming to light and the
whale shark--the gaping mouth, the metal skeleton spitting
me back out, too big to swallow, too tough to chew,
the salt under my nails itching,
"Oh, sorry ma'am, I must have fallen asleep,
Yes, I'm fine,
Thank you."
Signing forms without reading them,
Too tired to sleep again,
driving home dissociating, dreaming of whales.