posted in: Poem | 0

athlete’s foot! the dermatologist pronounces
when I show him my dry flaky heel and describe
the little red bumps that sometimes surface
along the rim.  when i protest that it’s lasted
a couple of years, intermittently, having resisted
creams and powders, he retorts
i’ve had mine since vietnam, which forces me
to see, in the dried up, sober doctor,
a young soldier, sweating in the trenches
while his choppered squad leader
determines maneuvers.  after that, i try to like him.

athlete’s foot!  i go home and contemplate
ways to tell my girlfriend.  the ringworm–
red half-dollar itching, swelling
from my shoulder–is somehow easier
being temporary and probably transmitted
by her kittens.  at night, our feet bump
under the covers and i cringe at
my sin of omission.

a few months later, the doctor goes too far–
ranting that lawyers are destroying the health
profession, exclaiming about my acne–the pimple
of my last visit an “impressive”
stage four–as if it’s the worst case
he’s seen, but refusing to prescribe
medicine because i might sue him.
i realize–vietnam or no vietnam–
i don’t like him.  and i go off
to find a new doctor.  months later,
the girlfriend will leave me–
thirty years into her future,
even a fungoid foot
won’t call up my memory.


“fungus” was first published in Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly.

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