Confession of a Vegetarian
I don’t have diabetes.
Someday, when I’m old and fat,
the doctor will sit me down in his little white room
with all his little silver instruments
(like he’s a flautist
with little rhythm
or a masochistic streak),
and frowning, he will tell me in his big white coat
and little white voice that my body is shutting down.
There will be a chart.
Indeed, will there ever be a chart.
My life reduced to lines of numbers that compare
to other people’s lines and numbers.
And no sir, they will not compare favorably.
Indeed, it will seem like everyone in the world under 80
will be in better shape than me.
My LDL will be a scientific anomaly.
It will have far too many digits
like it’s been hit with a baseball bat and
is now seeing triple.
The real issue, my doctor will say, is that
my body has aged faster than expected.
Though not necessarily in those words.
He will come up with a medically appropriate
way of breaking bad news,
with phrases like
we’re concerned with your (fill in the blank).
A level like this is abnormal and
may lead to complications
and premature death.”
Like death is ever mature.
When was the last time death paid his bills
(What landlord would confront him?)
or drove the neighbor’s kids to school?
Death—offing people in the prime of life at the same
time as juvenile delinquents.
Yeah, real mature.
But what will my doctor mean?
Reciting a list of side effects from
a pharmaceutical company
or erectile dysfunction advertisement
(they all include premature death),
but now it will be my body that needs a warning label.
“We prescribe 10 mg. of M_____ daily
but, please, don’t overdose.
Talk to your doctor before beginning M_____.
If symptoms persist for more than four hours,
seek medical attention
(Like I’m a goddamn dose of Viagra).
Do not take M_____ if you are nursing,
risking another life by beginning this regimen.
If you have to pee more than fourteen times a day,
it’s probably diabetes.”
That’s what he’ll say.
When we’re in his personal
little office with stained wallpaper
on the ceiling and hand sanitizer
located at the four corners of the room
like feng shui for dummies and hypochondriacs,
that’s what he’ll say, “It’s probably diabetes.”
It’ll happen when I’m 52 years old.
So I eat apples daily-
whole, with the seeds intact-
to keep back the physician
and bad news he brings
To keep cheating death
until the day that I make like Snow White
and bite into the flesh of
the fruit of the tree of knowledge
and learn that I’m not immortal.