Saturday morning, and orange juice and the heater’s buzz,
and outside, the first Alberta Clipper. Snow-spray
blusters past the window. A brain surgeon on the radio —
and I hear the tears in his voice — says
how good he feels sometimes, repairing spines. He does
more spines than brains, he says, and with both, no room
for mistake. And there lies the satisfaction. Sure.

Like in class yesterday, the reticence, the silence —
just one of those days, or Friday, or too few
had read too little. Whatever. But, silence. So I refused
to speak — puttered through my notes, underlined
more lines, watched them fidget, shuffle feet, roll
eyes. And still I waited. Until, on the cusp of a riot, Jordi
couldn’t stand it and got things going — she scores
for the soccer team — said she’d read
her in-class piece, her discussion of love. Someone you love
will always be there for you, no matter what, she read,
and then she asked Gabe to read. And with a grimace, and a breath,
he did: You would die for the person you truly loved.
And so it was around our circle, Gabe asking Katy, Katy
asking Anne, Mike, Rhianna, reading definitions of love,
just what love is. And they all felt good, buoyed
by sharing, control. By love. But I am a professor, and so
I suggested omission — they were, it seemed, thinking ideal,
ignoring the real love in the day-to-day.
Silence then. And shoulders sagged, eyes fell. Silence.

Morning drifts toward lunch, Car Talk on in a bit. Three crows
wrestle gusts on the backyard fence. And I think
that, though I could not begin to slice muscle
around a spine, I, too, work in a world of brain, and of
heart, to boot, and what may be a blessing is this:
my mistakes are not so calamitous as that surgeon’s might be,
though my regrets must be every bit as fine. Every bit.