“I decided to leave. ”
Go to the emergency room.
I called a cab.
“Fifteen minutes,” they said.
I hoped I had that much left.
As I left my apartment, I looked around;
A stick of butter, on my kitchen counter.
They will find that, I thought. Instead of me. Soft.
They will go to pick it up and it will all fall apart. Like I will.
I closed the door and locked it.
Took the elevator down.
The cab arrived fifteen minutes later,
just as they said.
The driver didn’t know the best way—
so we sat in traffic for another fifteen.
I thought I might be having a heart attack.
These horrible chest pains I’d been having for three days.
“Maybe I should have called the ambulance,” I thought.
The driver dropped me off at general admission,
thinking it was the E.R. It was not.
I had to walk up a large hill to the E.R.
Once there, I was put down on a chair,
hooked up to machines, wheeled around—
and ninety minutes later, they told me
“You’re fine. It’s not your heart. I don’t know
what it is—but you won’t die tonight, Matthew.”
So I walked back toward home, down the hill—
stopping at the corner store
to buy strawberry ice cream.
The clerk gave me a fifty cent piece in change.
A half dollar. JFK.
It was my lucky day, I decided.
And when I got home,
the stick of butter was waiting for me; Soft.
And when I went to pick it up and put it in the fridge,
it lost its shape, fell apart, and went splat on the floor.
But I was still there, in one piece; Solid—
I spooned out a dish of strawberry ice cream,
laid down, ate it— and felt the chest pains chill.