The first question at check-in
is always, How would you describe
your pain today? She makes

suggestions in line with my
previous treatments: pins
and needles? It would be

uncooperative and worrisome
if I used new words: thistles
and nettles, razorblades

and x-acto knives, snake fangs
and jellyfish stings. So again,
it is pins and needles,

numbness and cold. We dwell
on the blend of consonants,
mbn, numbness, mmbbnness.

Humor is best kept to oneself.
My pins and needles might be
genetic; my grandfather

a tailor, my grandmother
a seamstress. My doctor
has mapped all my nerves

with needles and electricity,
testing my conductivity
like Galvani or Frankenstein.

At checkups he presses my limbs
with tuning forks to wake
my nerves. Can you feel that? That?