The tumor is the size of a kumquat,
shadowy dark spot on the mri.
You were maybe expecting
something classifiably citrus: lime or
ruby-red grapefruit. The surgeon’s
a genius, or so his nurse says.
The genius circles the kumquat with light
from a pen. The woman beside you
squeezes your fingers, the tumor
has fingers, the woman beside you’s
a peach. A peach is not citrus.
The tumor’s a kumquat lodged
in the left frontal lobe, taking up space
that used to belong to the name
of the peach, the pair of you
joined nearly forty-nine years.
times seven, seven squared.
The genius is moving his mouth
while you do the math. Seven is prime,
it is safe, it is lucky. The genius’s mouth
is still working, but you can’t parse
what he’s saying, you can’t crack
the nouns. Now he is smoothing
his pointer over the image, soothing
the kumquat. The gesture’s not
touching, you want him to stop,
to cut it out, but he is speaking,
the genius is talking, he says,
cut it out—
and when you glance at the lightbox
his face for a moment
is a giant plum, blue, hovering, lit by sun
like tree fruit you plucked as a boy,
hunkered high in the limbs, waiting for a target—
an ambling dog or stranger’s car
at which to chuck it—for the heck of it.
is like that. And now
the surgeon is the surgeon again,
and the peach, what’s-her-name,
reaches for your arm. Seven is nothing more
than threes plus a one. And the tumor is
a mock orange. Size of a kumquat.
What it knows is squat.