Vasovagal Syncope

They warn the cadets each September don’t
lock your knees / A certain philosopher
falls down at parties as if chatter’s killed
him / The trigger is posture / not social but
arterial constraint slamming the door
to his brain shut / He’s a specialist in reasons
to be good // When I wore a candystriper’s
pinafore I squeezed past a cart that blocked
entry to a hospital room / The man
sleeping with his mouth ajar looked thirsty
so I filled his jug with shine and returned
to the hall abrim with the narcotic syrup
of my own virtue / That cart means he’s dead /
a real medical aide said / so I retired
to the solarium for the rest of my shift
and rolled an icy cola can across my head //
Next week I tried to be good again / A nurse
pressed / if she won’t eat, force her / so I sat
by the patient’s bed / smear of soup on the raised
spoon / I’d coaxed food into angry babies
but here songs about the magic tunnel seemed
biohazardous / stay away from the light /
She shut her lips martially / looked down / I
urged the metal bowl to the pales of her teeth /
Next thing my camera shutter swirled to a bright
speck and the nurses were cooing over me
in a fume of smelling salts while all the actual
patients kept on starving themselves / At fifteen /
pink-and-white smock cinched tightly at the ribs /
I was so much cuter than diseased old people //
Being good is impossible though there are many
reasons to try / Uniforms are meant
to button thinking up / Better to dilate
the channels / Shade drawn to admit a square
of water / Cup of sparkle honoring the gate