Study by Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad

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They lift me from the waiting room
like a sick animal, sheathed in fur mammal,

limp chest, incurved in their arms
from room to room. They scribble

things about ebbing expressions
and non-movements, knowing something

has died and the body is waiting
to follow. I answer questions for surveys.

A computer prompts me
to rearrange numbers and letters,

assign emotions to faces
flashing at a terrific speed. My throat

stale does not have the voice for protest,
to challenge the machine that stimulates

lobes thwarted by their own indifference.
They guide the metal out of my skin,

from my ears and nose before they stuff me
into the scanner where I fall asleep,

where they pull the heavy blanket
to the bow of my chin, keep my head still,

as I dream something beautiful,
that pictures of my brain full of ink

emote with fluency, that sketches
of these black and white images recite a truth

obscured by bright lipstick. The technicians
praise this form of wordless narration.

I wake up not hopeful, but humble enough
to trust for a little bit the nothing of everything.

At the end of one of these sessions,
we step onto flooding concrete.

I call after the doctor, tell her she can
take my umbrella, and she stops to catch

the reach of my offer; her eyes thaw in the way
her advisors once told her they shouldn’t.

I see then the prayers recited in each
of her pupils; she will check her notes later

hoping, for once, they didn’t place this one
in the group pumped with placebos.

Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad

Mehrnoosh was born and raised in New York. Her poetry has appeared in The Missing Slate, Passages North, HEArt Journal Online, Chiron Review, and is forthcoming in Natural Bridge and Pinch Journal. She currently lives in New York and practices matrimonial law.