After I get an MRI the plumber installs a new thermocouple
He crouches on the cement in front of our water heater,
twisting his head, flashlight clipped
to his cap, with the afternoon
settling into him. Who knows how many jobs
he’s covered already, work truck
plunging the streets of El Cerrito.
He runs through the details like he’s training me
to become a genius about metal-to-metal connection
and I feel like I’m still in the machine.
Earlier, in a medical room,
they locked a cage on my head to steady, instructed
shallow breaths and my body,
pushed into the narrow vestibule
where clicks made are not from a small wrench
and the metallic chink chink clunk clunk
reminded me of a rock concert where earplugs
And I gulped between tones,
saw cubes of blue and green and a circular shape
like Steven’s Mississippi, how his watercolored rounds
combined with squares, each object
unto itself but also part of something larger, and then,
a hint of salmon and always
flax, always rust. A way of seeing
not possible for the ordinary.
The results have come into the health portal
but I’ll wait for the doctor,
an expert just like the plumber
who explains they make the unit this way
so not just anyone can get in here, as he inserts the screws
by hand, closing the access panel
to the heater, then pushes
the line aside
navigating the industry
that is his own, where close by,
turrets safeguard a citadel
and a light ignited
will gift us.
Is the heater popping, tapping, rumbling, he asks.
Then he unwinds the new thermocouple,
threads its copper coil through the opening.
This magnetic beauty.
And I wonder
about the results of my test and whether
I have a brain tumor and
how long I have to live, or whether
it’s nerves behind the ear like the doctor said.
Laurel Benjamin is a San Francisco Bay Area native, where she invented a secret language with her brother. She has work in Lily Poetry Review, Burningword, Eunoia, Glassworks, South Florida Poetry Journal, Fourth River. Affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and Ekphrastic Writers, she holds an MFA from Mills College. She is a reader for Common Ground Review and has featured in the Lily Poetry Review Salon.
The Ekphrastic Review
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