Marvin Lurie

Field Surgeons 1961 (2020)

I came down out of the mountains at dusk
with a respiratory infection.
Burt and I wandered the streets of Vienna,
asked until we found a doctor missing his left hand and forearm
alone in an all night clinic
in the front room of a private home.
We talked symptoms with our almost German, his almost English,
laughed at being unable to understand a word in either language
   for diarrhea.
He recognized our names were Jewish. He said he once had many
   Jewish patients
in his orthopedic practice.
He had been an army field surgeon in the war.
When he was wounded, Americans took care of him.
The Jewish field surgeon who took off his hand
said he felt bad he had to do it
but it was mangled.
There was no way to save it.

After a penicillin shot and some pills
he helped me count out the small payment in coins.
The three of us sat for a while
looking out the front windows
at people on the sidewalk,
got up together
as if there had been an agreement.
Burt and I walked out.

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