Tuesday, March 20, 2018

“MRI” by Sara Backer

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “MRI” by Sara Backer.  Backer is the author of two chapbooks, “Bicycle Lotus”, which won the Turtle Island Poetry Award, and “Scavenger Hunt” coming soon from Dancing Girl Press. She's currently pursuing an MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her online writing is posted on her website, www.sarabacker.com/publications.

Sara Backer

I am the log the river shakes downstream.
The helmsman turns on pulsing disco
and mechanical rowers chant pins and needles,

pins and needles. I’m 100% sure those are the words
until they become friends in need and friends in need and
into the chute I’m sent.

The periscope mirror above my face
to ease claustrophobia doesn’t fool my mind.
I sense the lethal weight of magnets

closing round my brain. I churn with the noise
that will transform secrets of my dark tissue
into silent psychedelic imagery.

I become lumber run through the mill,
hammered, sawed, planed, and drilled,
bolted and drilled again, vibration after vibration

in a chilled room with a useless sheet
tossed over my legs—
a preview of my own autopsy?

A wet prick of dye announces Act II.
An intercom voice asks are you all right?
I say yes despite numb fingers, dizziness

of holding still, breathing minutes away through—pins
and needles, friends in need and—this construction project
of me somewhere between alive and dead.

Poet’s Notes:  Perhaps because I lived in Japan for three years, I'm always interested in the dynamic of opposites in Eastern poetry. A brain MRI is a loud and tactile hour-long ordeal for the patient that results in a silent image that doctors can see and understand in seconds--and find beauty in it. I hoped to show the way our brains try to fill in for us when our senses are deprived or when we are deprived of information. 

Editor’s Note:  Backer has nicely poetically captured the experience many have during an MRI.  The poetic conceit works well, and the stanza about the sheet is especially powerful. 

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