This Will Hurt

by John Woodington

He is tubes

tethered to a totem

of toxins and suction

His mother weeps

against the window

already gushed with rain

He cannot eat until

his body realigns

Already the ID bracelet

slides freely

from wrist to elbow


These are broken:

five ribs, pelvis


spleen—ruptured, removed

He tears up at the thought

of ever driving again

He says the medic held a needle

said, “This will hurt,”

and pierced his lung

When I ask if it hurt

he looks left

and clicks the morphine button

strung down over his chest