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Thursday, September 14, 2023


by Jennifer Hambrick

when a woman lies in stirrups maybe leave 
your camera eye closed until she paper-scoots
to table’s end, and wait until the crinkling stops 
to open it. you might try to deamplify
your autogenerated voice to a fiberoptic hum 
when you tell her to relax and let her knees fall
away from each other. glide your speculum- 
arm slowly and decisively and when you ask
if the pressure’s okay back away if she creaks 
yes in a falsetto that means no or if the room
fills with silence pregnant with fluorescent 
buzz. dynamize your algorithm to streamline
scraping. transmit the cells to your built-in 
lab. then reach a cold chrome tentacle into her
paper gown and ask with lossy upspeak if 
she’s noticed any changes. leverage your
endless bandwidth for an instant mammo- 
gram. and once you’ve read her breast
scan confirm in airless, chest-squeezed 
boilerplate the absence of tumors, calcifi-
cations, architectural abnormalities then 
take care to say her flesh could be hiding
tumors, calcifications, architectural ab-
normalities but you can’t be sure because
you can’t see through it. and thanks for that 
report, the one the human doc, who will
never be able to pay off her med school
loans, can't process because she’s on hold
trying to get your tests covered by the 
insurance company, whose virtual ass-
istant will notify the patient as soon as 
a decision has been made.

Six-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee Jennifer Hambrick is the author of the collections In the High Weeds (NFSPS Press), winner of the Stevens Prize; the Joyride (Red Moon Press), winner of the 2022 Marianne Bluger Book Award; and Unscathed (NightBallet Press). Hambrick was featured by former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser in American Life in Poetry and has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Sheila-Na-Gig Press Poetry Prize, First Prize in the HSA Haibun Award Competition, First Prize in the Martin Lucas Haiku Award Competition (U.K.), and many others. Hambrick’s poems appear in The Columbia Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Santa Clara ReviewMaryland Literary Review, San Pedro River Review, POEM, NOON: the journal of the short poem, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Contemporary Haibun Online, The Haibun Journal, Heliosparrow Poetry Journal, and in dozens of other journals and invited anthologies. A classical musician, public radio broadcaster, multimedia producer, and cultural journalist, Jennifer Hambrick lives in Columbus, Ohio.