Visitation

In the room at the end of a hall which the body is led to by a guide: a platform with a sheet, aimed at the ring-shaped gantry; cool light coming from a whole wall of windows. In the distance, traffic threading through the bridge. The technician in sea-green scrubs has a shaven head and deep-set eyes. He reminds you of the idols carved into wooden granary posts in the highlands: arms on top of bent knees, attentive sentinels. He sets you up for what he refers to as your line. The lead goes in, bevel up. But after the catheter and needle are taped in position for the vein, you ask to use the toilet. He is kind and makes no fuss, tells you to take your time. You empty yourself one more time— another effect of the second bottle of contrast you struggled to finish that morning, the taste just tolerable but the texture thicker than sludge. Back on the platform, you draw your knees up and he slides a bolster underneath. He asks you to raise both arms straight back then loops the tubing twice around your index finger; you hold it in place with your thumb. You are told: you might feel heat flower as a sudden fever, smell and taste the smoky metallic aura of iodinated dye. You might feel like you are about to urinate. The slip rings begin to whir in continuous motion. Your body is a wand passed through the circle; invisible beams rotate rapidly around it to consolidate an image. As the trace liquid enters your veins, you breathe and hold, breathe and hold in sequence. The feeling that floods your lower regions is less like the urge to pee, than the warmth that comes either before or after sex: spreading through your insides before the eddy of withdrawal. Afterwards, he extracts the needle and tapes on a piece of gauze. Departing through the corridor, you feel your head throb slightly. You desperately want to drink water. In the steel elevators leading to the grey parking lot, you are separate again, though still subaltern— unhooked from the eye that had the privilege of looking into the body’s outposts to collect its tokens.

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