EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHT PLACE

I had a dream.

The box was lifted out of the ground as a group of on-lookers clad in black vacuumed saltwater into ducts at the corners of their eyes, limned with a fading red. The strongest men in attendance hoisted the box onto their shoulders and placed it carefully into the back of a fancy car, also black. It was driven by a chauffeur and escorted by a motorcade; the policemen's lights flashed but their sirens were respectfully muted. It stopped at a church, and then the body was taken to another building where it was moved from the box to a bag.

The bag was transported in turn to a hospital, where it was unzipped in a quiet, cold room in the basement. The body inside was removed and placed on a metal table until it could be reassembled by the pathologist. When he was done with his scrupulous work, he untied a tag from a big toe before the body was taken upstairs and moved from a stretcher to a bed.

Here was a different gathering of people, all wearing short sleeves and looking tired, who watched the body change colors from blue to pink. The body gained warmth as those assembled around the bed laid on their hands and pistoned down and up on its sternum, healing fractured ribs with their increasingly vigorous touch. As their sweat dried they captured a hundred joules by placing metal paddles on the body’s motionless chest. When the line on the screen turned from flat to bumpy, they took off the sticky electrodes that had been measuring the current and returned to their jobs elsewhere, until the body was alone with a nurse, worry evaporating from her face. She summoned a family into the room. A clot moved from being lodged in the arteries of the lungs to a vein in the leg, where it dissolved slowly, tapering down as the patient became more mobile.

Eventually the body was moved out of the hospital when an ambulance took it to a house, and then an ordinary car drove it to a clinic. There they used needles to suck poison out of the body and collected the dangerous liquid in a bag. Inside the body, cells that had been scattered helter-skelter relocated to a single organ, summoned by some invisible magnetism like swallows to Capistrano.

These cells dwindled in number until there was just one, whose misbehavior improved over time until it became perfectly neighborly and all was well.

Mark LewisComment