Thursday, December 6, 2012

Donal Mahoney- A Poem

Strangers in Peoria

I met a proper woman in a proper pub 
on a Monday in Peoria. I was taken by how much 
she looked like Jackie after Dallas 
but without the pillbox hat.

She was from New York and I was from Chicago 
and we were in Peoria for interviews
for jobs we thought we'd get. 
But living in Peoria, we thought, 
might not be a fit.

The lady was a surgeon recruited by a hospital. 
It took a little prompting but finally she said: 
"I repair pelvic floors in women."
She paused to see if I'd react
and when I didn't, she continued. 

"If a bladder drops, or a rectum tumbles 
or if a womb is full of fibroids, 
I'm the surgeon that lady needs to see.
These are ailments most men never
hear about unless they've had a wife 
who's had them." 

She sipped her Coke, 
dabbed the corner of her mouth, 
and then assured me: 
"When I get done, the lady's free 
of all protrusions. She can urinate, 
defecate and have sex again, all 
without discomfort."

Now I’ve met my share of women, 
but I had never met a woman,
drunk or sober, quite like her. 
I had no idea what to say and so 
I sat and listened. 

"Actually, my patients have a choice.
They can let me do the surgery or buy 
a pessary, a device few women know about 
until I pull one from the cabinet 
and explain its ins and outs. 
The pessary makes surgery seem simple 
and so we pick a day for me to tuck 
the organs back where they belong.

"Now, if the womb is full of fibroids,
I'll suggest that we remove the uterus as well. 
I tell her we'll take out her crib 
and leave her playpen intact. 
Often that's the best solution."

She sipped her Coke again and said, 
"Somewhere in Peoria, as we speak, 
a bladder's dropping, a rectum's quivering 
and a fibroid's growing. Believe me, 
if the salary is right, I'll take this job 
because a fibroid in Peoria's no different 
than a fibroid in New York."

Then she put me on the spot:
"Well, that's my story. What's yours?
What do you do for a living?"

I took a breath and said: 
"I repair sentences in documents 
written by intelligent people 
expert in arcane fields. 
Some of them can't spell 
or punctuate or if they can, 
they dangle participles, 
split infinitives or run 
their sentences together 
like mountain rams 
in rutting season." 

For emphasis I added, 
"I put muscle in their verbs, 
amputate their adjectives,
assassinate their adverbs. 
I give my clients final copy 
they can claim is theirs. 
The reader never knows 
a ferret like me has dashed
between the lines, 
nibbling at this 
and chomping on that."

Then I added a remark I hoped 
would prompt a get-together later 
for dinner and drinks, 
another chat and a little laughter,
who knows what else, 
before we'd have to take 
different planes back home:

"I believe our work is similar," I said. 
"I too put things back where they belong 
and cut away anything protruding."

About an hour later, we paid our tabs, 
said long good-byes and headed off 
in different directions. By day's end, 
we'd both be flying home;
and although we'd still be strangers,  
we'd be strangers who had had 
an interesting conversation. 

Not interesting enough, however, 
for either of us to ask 
the other for a name or number.

Donal Mahoney has had work published in various print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. 
Some of his earliest work can be found at

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