Many Things

By Robert Knox

PROMPT—I am grateful for ...

I am grateful for being here

so I may consider the question

of what I am grateful for.


The other day I had the good fortune to

permit a tube to run down my esophagus

carrying a scientific eye to look for trouble,

and, apparently, not finding much of it.


I am grateful that a smiling white-haired woman stuck a thin instrument up my left nostril in order to conclude, a day later, that it was safe to lull me to sleep with chemicals, with questions, with a funny bathrobe that tied in the back, though my stubby fingers could barely manage that attachment.


I am grateful for the nurse who told me her name and who then asked me to tell her my birthdate, which I managed, and then came the recitation of my surgeries, of which there are a few, the one about the removal of part of my colon and the removal of one of my kidneys and the removal of my gall bladder, though no happiness came of it, and then I recalled, though I do not recall it well, for I was very young, the removal of my appendix, though in fact I do remember trying to flee a nurse with a hypodermic, and failing, of course.


And, I am grateful that, some moments later, as the nurse whose name I should remember, but fail to, was looking into a screen, I recalled that I had failed to mention the prostate cancer, which did not even require a surgery, after which she had the grace to observe, "My, you've had a lot of cancer."


So, yes, I am grateful as well that my consciousness was elsewhere when the tube went down my esophagus, And I woke, rather refreshed, as if after an unusual midday nap, no worse for wear, and praised for "doing very well," when, of course, I had done nothing at all And yet perhaps that has always been one of my strengths, to permit those who could help me to do their jobs so that I could continue to enjoy the use of my body (and my body, perhaps, of me) and so that I am still here and able to say, "Thank you, everybody."


Robert Knox is a poet, fiction writer and freelance correspondent for the Boston Globe. As a contributing editor for the online journal Verse-Virtual.org, his work appears there every month.