TIME’S CAPRICES by Charlotte F. Otten
High on an ambulance chariot
attended by firemen and paramedics
who assured me
there was nothing an orthopedic surgeon
Time collapsed into incompatible moments,
vanished in the anesthetic
and in the shot that numbed my leg
for 24 ambushed hours.
I found myself in a short-lived bed,
then in another in a Rehab Center
with mostly older patients who
felt no ‘before’ or ‘after,’
and I with a leg cast
heavy as a sack of broken concrete
regularly lifted by an air machine
into bed and bathroom to keep weight
off the injured leg, counting each day
by the number of airlifts,
graduating to a board that I learned how
to slide on with a rhyme from childhood,
“Red Rover, Red Rover,
Let Charlotte come over,”
and I heard Time chuckling behind my ear.
How long did it take for me to walk again?
I can’t remember, Time has a way
of squeezing tedium, anxieties, and pains
into months that feel like yesterday
when it is past, and Time winks,
having turned nagging memories into solace.
Charlotte F. Otten is a retired Professor of English, her poems have appeared in journals as diverse as Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Agenda, The Healing Muse, Southern Humanities Review. She’s perhaps best known for “A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture.”