Ode to My Physical Therapist by Marlena Chertock

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Ode to My Physical Therapist

My feet up on her thighs —
her stomach so round —
a seatbelt around us
to stretch my spine
and she says push
through the pain.
Like pain is something
I can speed up and pass,
leave in the rearview mirror.

She’s made me cry
twice. Tears dripping
through the face-hole
in the massage bed.
But I feel better with her
hands on me than I do
with anyone. Pain
is more manageable with
her petroleum jelly and palms.

After monthly twice a week visits
she can’t say
my pain will go away.
It will always be there,
a woodpecker forever
jabbing my lower left back.
His beak sending
shooting vibrations
along my trunk.

Marlena Chertock

Marlena Chertock is the Poetry Editor for District Lit. Her first collection of poetry, On that one-way trip to Mars, is available from Bottlecap Press. Her poems and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Dear Robot: An Anthology of Epistolary Science Fiction, The Fem, The Little Patuxent Review, Moonsick Magazine, and Paper Darts. Find her at marlenachertock.com or @mchertock.