The Incredible History of Patient M

I went swimming with the Doctor;
he wore his stethoscope and listened
to the ebb and flow. ‘Bad line,’ he said.               
 
I hid the stones in my pockets.
I’m in training with the Doctor –
I’m closely monitored.
 
He straps his velcro cuff to my bicep
and pumps it till I’m breathless.
‘You need to breathe more,’ he says.
 
On Thursdays he examines me
on all fours. He wears a white coat
with too-short sleeves.
 
He can’t work out why I’m so heavy.
His wrists are great hairy chunks,
and he wears no watch.
 
‘Time is nothing,’ says the Doctor.
He’s unconventional. ‘Time is nowhere,
like a dead bird in a cave. Let’s take a look inside.’
 
I’d never opened up before. The Doctor
has a scalpel. ‘And I’m not afraid to use it!’
He calls it his shark’s tooth.
 
The Doctor bites and leaves a mark
like the fossil of a sprung jaw.
He slapped my face with his penis.
 
‘To get you going,’ he said. My heart is now
on red alert, apparently. ‘If it stops,’
he reminds me, ‘you’re dead.’

from Dear Boy (Faber, 2013), © Emily Berry 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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3Letter to Husband

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4I Love NY

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5The Old Fuel

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6A Short Guide to Corseting

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7Sweet Arlene

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9Everything She Does is Not Her Fault

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