Exam Table Paper |
by Ally Malinenko

Exam table paper sticks to my back as I lay, one arm up
the other down, shirtless
as the technician with a shaved head,
and sharp glasses,
who reminds me of my old poetry teacher,
runs her hands along my breast.

It’s not until I notice her hitting the same spot
the side of my right breast, over and over again
that I glance at the sonogram screen.

And there it is.
Like the red spot on Jupiter
a hurricane the size of the planet
here now
inside me
ready to wipe out everything I know.

I’m going to get the doctor, she tells me
and right then, I know.
I know the way I know that
one day I would be here,
but I never expected this day to be today,
June 5th when I am only 37 years old.
I whisper “fuck”
the smallest hurricane of a word I know.

When the doctor will come in
she will have a nice face
and I will think that she is not giving me bad news
because people with such nice faces
explain about misunderstandings
not diagnosis

but I am wrong.
Instead she gives me a printout
of my own hurricane
and tells me to come back tomorrow for the biopsy.

But that is in the future,
just several moments from now
as the woman with the shaved head is making
her way step by step down the hall
of this medical center
searching for the woman
who will change my life
and I am lying here now,
looking down at my own nipple
“fuck no.”

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press), as well as the children's novel Lizzy Speare and The Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books). Her novel This Is Sarah is forthcoming from Bookfish Books this summer. She currently lives in the part of Brooklyn voted to have the best halal truck.