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from The Gettysburg Review


 The Kiss
            One well-known book suggests that first you cry, but I didn’t.  After I hung up the phone, I walked to our apartment window and looked down at the street. The vendors were out: the Korean fruit stand couple, the African sellers of purses and sunglasses, the proprietor of the umbrella-shaded Halel stand where smoke escapes in steamy wisps.  A row of yellow cabs was lined up outside the Warwick Hotel, and when a man jogged past wearing a red jersey, it occurred to me that I should open the window and shout to him–about his red jersey, maybe, or about where he thought he was going. My ears felt hot. I heard a high-pitched buzzing. A mosquito? It was mid-March, and besides, I was five floors above the ground–ground that, I now realized, was spinning. My father once told me that the best thing to do when the room starts spinning is to sit still for a moment.
  
           Just a few minutes before the doctor’s call, I had been on a three-mile run in Central Park, carrying in my head some lines for a poem about kangaroos I had begun a week before, shortly after returning from the Routine Procedure, as I would continue to refer to it over the next few months. If you are anywhere near my age, you are familiar with the Routine Procedure, that unpleasant, potentially demeaning event every conscientious internist urges you toward as you approach your fiftieth birthday.

            The gastroenterologist, who came highly recommended, was a handsome, walnut-colored man with a deep, soothing baritone voice. My husband accompanied me as I had accompanied him a few years earlier for his Routine Procedure, because, as the pamphlets advise, you may be drowsy afterwards and should not plan to drive yourself home, or, in my case, to flag down a cab. Having had bad reactions to anesthesia in the past, I reminded myself that this was only mild sedation–Sublimaze or Valium, maybe. Just something to relax me. Maybe it wouldn’t make me sick...



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