White room, pictures of labeled
muscles, sterile smell, cold
breath, cheap paper stretched
across the bed—I can’t move
my fingers. I iced and rubbed

my arms for months. I twisted
handles with my wrists, my grip
slipping. Shower water mixed
with tears; I washed my hair
and steered my car with my
fists. I cursed and cried and kicked

that black sax case, horn held tightly
inside. My love crippled me. Hours
with egg cartons on the walls, repeated
motion, too tense, a desperate pariah
at an elite school. Close to catching
up, earning respect, and one morning

I can’t move my fingers. The doctor
startles me with the click of her
heel and the clearing of her throat. I wipe
my tears with my wrists, then smear
them on the paper. My lips feel sticky
and dry. She points to her clipboard, runs

her fingers across the swollen, devastated
tendons in my arm. I can’t breathe
from crying. My dream, my only
thought, crumbles, a few chips

that build in intensity, until I sob
like an avalanche. I’ll never be able
to play again. I stomp around the room,
arms crossed, hands cradled, and ask
the tongue depressors and stethoscopes
the same question I scream at the stars
twenty years later: what do I do now?

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