The upper regions mapped, the X, Sharpie on masking tape, in the center of my throat. The machine traverses a line, coordinates tied to this mark, to other known points, clavicle jaw bone, maybe an ear lobe. How far, centimeters, is the X from where my cancer began, the scar on my neck. How far, just for nostalgia, from the nose, thirty years ago smashed by a brick, a tangible violence. I’ve measured too often, the girth of my waist, my weight, this last May my wife’s heartbeat, her breathing, as she lay hooked to tubes and meters, whirling and beeping. I measured her breath by breath, diastole, systole, diastole, systole. And even that highest of science or art, that tick by tick connection to the numbers of her blood, the difficulty of breath, told me what matters is immeasurable. Today my mask fit tighter on my forehead, my nose, and I feared something had shifted. But my body—mapped now like the plat that defines our home, a point in concrete north of the drive way, an iron pipe in the confluence of two creeks, the angle between them—flat on this table could be a job I worked years ago, painting survey targets on the suburban streets of Boca Raton. The laser burns my body, maps what it is I am now, the chance of my being someone else by summer, the science of reclamation.

RICK CAMPBELL’s newest book of poems is Dixmont, from Autumn House Press. His other books are The Traveler’s Companion (Black Bay Books, 2004); and Setting The World In Order (Texas Tech 2001) which won the Walt McDonald Prize and A Day’s Work (State Street Press 2000);. He’s won a Pushcart Prize, an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, and two poetry fellowships from the Florida Arts Council. He’s published poems and essays in many journals including The Georgia Review, The Florida Review, Prairie Schooner and many others. He is the director of Anhinga Press and the Anhinga Prize for Poetry, and he teaches English at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. He was born on the Ohio River 20 miles downriver from Pittsburgh and lives with his wife and daughter in Gadsden County, Florida.