PoetryIssue 01 | November 2008

Two Poems by Katie Perkins

Mallya Hospital, Bangalore

I press the call button and wait
for the nurse to unhook my I.V.,
so I can use the bathroom.

The first time it had seemed unnecessary
to inform the nurse of my need to urinate,
so I carried the I.V. with me.

Left wrist needle-stiff: balancing the saline sack.
Right arm: tilting the stand forward,
a 35 degree angle. I needed both hands.

Willowy tube on metal tree post
the I.V. stood and watched while I bent over,
maintaining its careful saline drip.

When the nurse enters the room, I request
toilet paper. She nods, picks up the intercom:
Please bring toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper.

In India, a basin, water spigot
and left hand would be preferred.
But the nurse smiles sympathetically.

The crisp folds of her cap,
the neat origami of uniform and sari are comforting.
The couriers arrive, blushed –

clutching a box of tissues,
as embarrassed as I had been,
imagining the exact details of my foreign ritual.

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About the author

Katie Perkins is a project manager and editor at the Prague Daily Monitor. Originally from northern California, Katie traveled twice to Germany and once to Australia as an enthusiastic exchange student. She has a degree in Literature and Journalism from the University of California Santa Cruz and is finishing her MFA at Bennington College. Katie lives in Prague with her husband and dog.

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Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
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Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
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