Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
A Hard Road
by Mike Berger
Green masks and green hats were all I could see as they hovered over me. The surgical light blinded my eyes. I felt a throbbing pain in my lower leg. There seemed to be some tiny imp there who smacked me with his ax each time my heart beat. A condescending nurse patted my shoulder and said that everything had gone well. What did she know; they had just cut my foot off.
In the recovery room, I got depressed. My mood ricocheted off the bottom. I lamented over the things I love to do that I could never do again. I would never hike a mountain again. I'll never play softball or plant a garden. In those moments I wrestled hard with despair.
The saying on the T-shirt from the rehab center was a gross understatement. It read, "Our rehab isn't for sissies." The physical therapist was as mean as a junk yard dog. I think she was an offspring from the creature from the Black Lagoon.
They fitted me with a prosthetic. I wandered around like a pregnant took. I would have preferred to crawl into a foxhole. Pull my helmet down around my ears and let the war go raging on.
It was hard to learn to walk again, but that wasn't anything compared to my bruised pride. I hated it when an old lady held the door open for me. I still barely tolerate it when my wife comes and opens the car door for me. When people are overly kind it cuts me to the quick. I often stare out my window at my flower gardens. I love my lilies the most, but I can't get down the stairs to go out and talk to them.
Then one day I had a flash of light. I decided that feeling sorry for myself just wouldn't work. I was alienating everyone and learning to hate myself. From then I pasted on a smile. I found great pleasure being around kids. I'd slip off my prosthetic and put it on backwards and enjoy their reaction. Now I introduce my artificial leg as, "Peggy." I changed my name from Mike to Ilean.
Now I write poetry to fill the void. It has become my passion. May I close with my favorite?
"I hope you won't consider this smut;
but having one leg is a pain in the butt.
Mike Berger is a PhD psychologist who is
now retired. He claims to be bright, articulate,
handsome, and humble. He has been writing
poetry for less than a year. His work has
appeared in some 30 journals and magazines.
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