It’s one of those things you can’t see
or measure, but you know it's there,
insisted the Chinese doctor.
I knew exactly what he meant—
I could say the same thing about love
or madness or thoughts of rain.
He pointed to a map on the wall—
it could have been a map of the New York subway,
or the circuitry diagram for a microchip,
except that all the lines ran over a human form,
and the lines ran along points with poems for names,
like “Little Marsh” and “Spirit Door” and “Listening Palace.”
It makes sense that you are having pain,
he said, as he placed the needle into the cool skin
on the top of my left foot, then placed another
above the fourth toenail of my left foot. This one
is called “Extreme Yin,” he said, good for your headaches
and sleeping problems and also for dreams of ghosts.
I wondered how he knew
that only two nights before, my friend who died last spring
appeared for a second, beautiful and laughing,
then vanished again into my dream.
Cover image by Jon Tyson