Alexandra Teague • What I Know for Sure
When I look at my abdomen, I see a scar turning
back to lighter skin from where a surgeon cut
five inches across, and just before this, I remember
trying to stop screaming as my intestine ruptured
by reciting names-first middle and last-
of everyone I could think of, though I do not know
for sure if I got all the middle names right,
or if I have ever known yours.
In last Thursday’s Kansas City Star, I saw a photo
of an x-ray of a man’s head imbedded with a nailgun nail
that, according to the story, had missed his eyes
and seven centers of planning and purpose inside
his frontal lobe and done, really, no damage.
The doctors called this a true miracle,
which made me think that death does not happen
by cause and effect, though I do not know for sure
that the story or picture or both had not been doctored
to improve circulation, as though printed words
and paper are, the same as us, a living body.
My parents gave me the middle name Rachael
for its numerological value, and my whole name
therefore adds up to seven, which is said to be lucky.
The pre-surgical report describes me as being
of steady age which makes me wonder if some
people’s ages are in visible flux.
I do not regularly sign my middle name or initial.
The surgeon recorded cutting me with a ten blade
just below McBurney’s point.
Even having been opened there,
I do not recognize this name as my body.