Haibun in the Modern English-Language Style by Ray Rasmussen
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Chest pains!

A voice in my head says 'have it checked', but another voice, the one that likes the lawn to get very long before mowing it, says: "just a muscle spasm."

One day passes, two days, three days ...

Seven days now and the pain hasn't gone away.
Meanwhile my imagination has explored all the possibilities offered up on the hospital soaps:
heart attack, cancer, ulcer, kidney stone, gall bladder, appendicitis, stroke-the list goes on and on.

Finally, the nagging voice wins and I arrive at EMERGENCY.

The triage nurse asks how long I've had the pains. Like a truant schoolboy, I confess to only
2 days.

She leans forward, smiles, pats my hand, and
says: "You mustn't wait when you have chest pains. Sit over there and we'll take you in next."

The word "NEXT" echoes in my mind. I imagine metal tongs prying my chest open, a quadruple by-pass, a dead person's heart being jammed into my empty chest.

Still, I sit as far away as I can from the other emergency room petitioners. Foolish to pick up a cold on my way to having a heart attack.

Before I know it, I'm squeezed into one of those tiny hospital gowns with too many personal parts hanging out. The nurses draw blood, take temperature, read blood pressure, administer ECG, x-ray bones-everything but floss my teeth.

One hour passes, two, three. Many people in white coats pass, but none stop at my cubicle.

playground memory–
a deflated balloon half buried
in the sandbox

I wonder whether they've forgotten about me or whether they've decided to ignore me because there's no immediate problem.

"As punishment for waiting 7 days, let him sit for a few more hours," imagination's evil doctor whispers to the triage nurse.

I can't quite imagine being dead, but related thoughts stream in: I should have done my will, pre-arranged the cremation, hugged my kids more, told someone I was coming in Š

in the next cubicle–
the sound of a machine
flat lining

Like a fish leaping out of the water, the need to escape surfaces. I consider getting dressed, bolting out the door. I imagine orderlies dragging me back, the triage nurse's 'tut-tut' as they carry me back lashed to a stretcher.

Finally, the doctor arrives, scans the charts, hums and hahs, says: "All clear. Guess you had a bit of a scare, eh? Next time come in right away."

viagra ad–
twenty men dance
in the street

published in Haiku Harvest