Pain thuds the drum
before I leave the ear appointment, but
the clinic staff wave me out the door.
The throbs become thumps
of bass through floor boards and I call 811,
wincing against my pillow. The thumps release
into fizzing, then sputtering I laugh off
over tea and a roommate’s raised brow,
blood and runny wax I wipe with tissues.
An emergency room doctor says it’s a mess in there.
For a month, I wear a plastic bag when I shower.
No swimming, flying either.
You are fleshy flags
standing on tunnels—tiniest I’ve ever seen. Like a newborn’s
canals, a doctor tells me. You could get those widened,
just a general anaesthetic, he says,
before reminding me to administer oil
so he can dig out the flakes and shavings,
make it easy-release,
a wiggly tooth falling out, a fantastic shit,
instead of prick, jab, wince.
You’re full of pops and crackles,
itches to be tugged, pain
to press away. I call
for an appointment when you become low-battery smoke alarms,
piercing more and more frequent,
hard to sleep through.
I yell down a rain barrel
and imagine what bits of conversation got stuck
on the other side of the wax drift.
Katie Cameron (she/they) is a writer and a queer white settler living on the traditional, unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq (Truro, Nova Scotia). She studied English at St. Thomas University and participated in the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program through the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia as an apprentice writer, 2019-2020.