The first thing nurses always ask-
is: Are you in any pain today?
And I say "Yes. The answer is always 'Yes'
That's how it is Chronic Pain. It's chronic.
Related to Time, as in, All. Of. The. But,
how could you know even though that fact
cleverly hidden in the medical history page
in your computer that has my name on it.
Can you give the pain a number from one to ten?
So I say "Twelve. Or Twenty. Or Eleventy-five.
Because her numbers are not the same
as my numbers, so please- if this will save time
I am going to write this down...
Pain Level One: This is both of us waking to feel this way,
but, what you would call "a sick day" I call "Good morning."
Pain Level Two: Good morning, it is going to rain.
I know this, because pain is its own forecast. Pain births
itself, like a mythology, like a place that keeps discovering you.
My doctor and I examine charts, discuss excavations.
I know my body is a ruined temple,
because my doctor only speaks in lost languages.
Level Three: Good Morning, it is going to rain fire.
Level Four: I am starting to lose my shape from the rain...
Pain... whatever. It just hurts.
Level Five: This is the unsure place, the Rubicon
somewhere in every day. The tipping-point between
Do I return to bed? Or keep walking in the rain?
Pain Level Six: It is raining. It is always raining, or going to,
or threatening. My to-do lists are written on rice paper.
Level Seven: Fifteen years ago, this pain kept me
In bed, eighteen hours a day. Today my body is heavy
with coping strategies. The pain settles,
like fossils, like silt and epochs. Someday,
Level Seven will be my favorite Lost World.
Level Eight: Good Morning, it is raining crazy Tyrannosaurs.
Level Nine: Rain as Soothsayer, as Oracle, as Doom Prophesy,
Rain as Today and Every Day for Fifteen Years. My pain?
My pain today is a Fifteen and will never fit anyone's scale.
Level Ten: End game. Extinction event. Rain forever.