Self-Portrait with Scar


It’s true that I’m young, and it’s true that I’m old.
Ask my mother; ask my students. My mother’s
headache: giant cell arteritis. My student’s dizzy spell:

tumor. Since I can’t get a whole body scan
every year—WebMD. This morning, dry patch
or skin cancer. Last week, healthy tongue images.

Last month, enamel erosion. One summer,
I drove a relative to get dentures. The next summer,
I drove another. Each in my passenger seat,

gauze and blood, heads tipped back
like they were gargling saltwater or talking to God.
I thought the spot on my front tooth meant I was

losing my front tooth, but the dentist polished it away
in thirty seconds. Two hours ago I downloaded
a flashlight so I could shine my throat for strep.

Once a cold lingered so I thought maybe COVID.
Once a cold lingered so I thought maybe HIV.
Something is coming—death, eventually

or soon, not recognizing myself in the mirror. Once
I carved a whitehead from my forehead with nail scissors.
Now I look up whether scars ever go away on their own.