Christina Lovin

Extraction

I am high on nitrous oxide. 
Or did the assistant just say 
that? Am I? I am? Is my 
iPod plugged into my ear
or is that an angel? Emmy Lou 
Harris is singing The Boxer and I lose
my equilibrium in the whirling
of my brain. It should be someone 
else whose name I can't remember 
just now. Simone? Nina Simone? 
No. Garfinkel? Garfunkel? 
Simon and Garfunkel. Yes.

Emmy Lou sings on: Li-la-li, 
li-la-li li, li,li, li. I'm lying 
in this chair, afloat in her voice. 
Drifting on her raw, urgent voice
with no paddle up my canoe.
Is that right? No, Christina. 
The assistant says something.
I was just waiting for someone 
like you, Emmy sings. I open my mouth

and nod as if knowing what was asked. 
The good patient. But I am not 
in this chair, I am rising above 
the student center at my old college, 
where the steps are littered with leaves—
gold, red, brown. Good times 
and lovers... In the mist, the old main 
building remains, standing stately 
on the corner across the quad
in gray stone and dim hallways
where it was torn down 
in '68, and we live down the block
and I am young again. All of us

are still alive. I've grown used to losing 
what I'm fondest of. I think of boys 
I knew there—never more than friendly 
strangers, but returning to me 
now in this numb fog of pleasure 
and pain. Three brothers, dead 
for years now. My mother, father, 
friends. That girl down the hall

who was killed my freshman year.
Her room as empty as her parents’ faces
when they came to gather her belongings.
I don’t want to remember what I am 
in this state: I've gone inside 
the student center, down the stairs, 
or is it up from the basement? 
I don't know now--the sun is glinting
in from the snow outside the tall,
tall windows in sharp shards of light. 
Does that building even exist? Do I? 

Are you all right? Someone whispers 
and pats my shoulder. The work
is finished. She's said this; 
not me. I nod and open my eyes 
as if I understood the words. 
As if I can grasp what they mean.
As if, drowning as I am in the past, 
afloat with no bridge in sight, I care.

Christina Lovin is the author of A Stirring in the Dark, What We Burned for Warmth and Little Fires. A two-time Pushcart nominee and multi-award winner, her writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Southern Women Writers named Lovin 2007 Emerging Poet. Having served as Writer-in-Residence at Devil’s Tower National Monument and the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Central Oregon, she served as inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Connemara, the NC home of the late poet Carl Sandburg. Lovin has been a resident fellow at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Prairie Center of the Arts, Orcas Island Artsmith Residency at Kangaroo House, and Footpaths House to Creativity in the Azores. Her work has been supported with grants from Elizabeth George Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Women, and Kentucky Arts Council. She resides with four dogs in a rural central Kentucky, where she is currently a lecturer at Eastern Kentucky University.