Transcribing an ER Report
by Claudia Gary

My keystrokes open up the next dictation:
“Tall, thin Caucasian male, 30 years old,
presents with suicidal ideation
and says he also has ‘a real bad cold.’ ”

That can’t be right! Rewind and check for static,
listen again. The words still sound the same
but now I hear a sharp tone, symptomatic
of irony. The doctor’s not to blame,

nor is he free to explicate his views.
A resident, he works long hours this year
unrecognised, unthanked, paying his dues
and learning how to tell disease from fear.

I never learn the end, which seems a shame.
But he’s the one who has to sign his name.