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John Nimmo has published poems in Rattle, Stirring, Wisconsin Review, Convergence, Stickman Review, Sand Hill Review, and elsewhere. He has studied with accomplished poets including Sharon Olds, Dick Maxwell, and Kim Addonizio. He works as an environmental physicist specializing in water issues, and lives with his wife Elsa in Menlo Park, California. His poetry website is at


Lead Apron

I lie back on beige vinyl. She drapes my torso
with a pliant mass whose weighty pressure comforts
as it aids my exhalations and curbs
my breathing in. She puts inside my mouth
a little card that tastes like the smell of bandaids
with a trace of silicone glove, and tells me
bite down. She grips the chrome arm
with the black cone that spews X-rays
and swings it to my cheek where it bobs
with the wobble of the arm. I hear the brief buzz.
The rays have done their work—
they help or hurt my head while I am snug
in lead that keeps them from my heart.
Maybe this is why cats like paper bags and boxes
not quite big enough—the pressing-back of inner
faces, the reassuring lack of space—so like
a lover’s hug in bed, or long ago, a mother’s.