“How prove you that in the great heap of your knowledge?
Ay, marry, now unmuzzle your wisdom.”
As You Like It I.ii
Stand you forth now.
Stroke your chin.
Swear by what beard you have not,
what maidenhead you have not,
and the wit you have not.
Swear by the gold you have not
and by the coffee you have not drunk
the dregs of. Swear by the mustard
you do not like.
Swear by the New Yorkers
you do not read.
Swear by sudoku.
Swear by your unopened electric bill
and your mother’s belated birthday card.
Swear by the duct-taped boxes of important papers
you have not touched in years.
Find the last living black-breasted puffleg
and swear by its legpuffs.
Swear by the heaven you have never seen.
Swear to me.
This poem is part of a series of poems based on diagnosis codes Kahler encountered while processing insurance claims. The project aims to explore the overlap between common parlance and medical language; to tease out some of the roots, off-shoots, and latent stories that lie in what we call our diseases.