Biopsy by C.K Williams

Have I told you, love, about the experience
I used to have before I knew you?
At first it seemed a dream — I’d be in bed — 
then I’d realise I was awake, which made it — 
it was already frightening — appalling.

A dense, percussive, pulsing hum,
too loud to bear soon as I’d hear it,
it would become a coil of audible matter
tightening over me, so piercing
I was sure I’d tear apart in it.

I’d try to say a word to contradict it,
but its hold on me was absolute,
I was paralyzed; then, my terror
past some limit, I’d try again: this time
I’d cry out aloud, and it would stop.

Trembling, I’d come to myself, as,
the night of your tests, I came shuddering
awake, my fear for you, for both of us,
raging more terribly through me
than that vision of annihilation ever did.

It was like the desolate time before you:
I couldn’t turn to you for reassurance
lest I frighten you, couldn’t embrace you
for fear I’d wake you to your own anxiety,
so, as I had then, I lay helpless, mute.

The results were “negative”; now
I’ll tell you of those hours in which my life,
not touching you but holding you,
not making a sound but crying for you
divided back into the half it is without you.


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