“To Be Seen” by Jericho Brown:
Forgive me for taking the tone of a preacher.
You understand, a dying man
Must have a point—not that I am
Dying exactly. My doctor tells me I’ll live
Longer than most since I see him
More than most. Of course, he cannot be trusted
Nor can any man
Who promises you life for looking his way. Promises
Come from the chosen: a lunatic,
The whitest dove—those who hear
The voice of God and other old music. I’m not
Chosen. I only have a point like anyone
Paid to bring bad news: a preacher, a soldier,
The doctor. We talk about God
Because we want to speak
In metaphors. My doctor clings to the metaphor
Of war. It’s always the virus
That attacks and the cells that fight or die
Fighting. Hell, I remember him saying the word
Siege when a rash returned. Here
I am dying while
He makes a battle of my body—anything to be seen
When all he really means is to grab me by the chin
And, like God the Father, say through clenched teeth,
Look at me when I’m talking to you.
Your healing is not in my hands, though
I touch as if to make you whole.
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