doctor's desk and notes
Photo by Abdulai Sayni on Unsplash

Leda Goes To The Doctor by Pankaj Khemka

Medicine is magical and magical is all I think of

—Paul Simon

Like a slo-mo replay of an epic fumble

My M.A. plops yet another chart on my desk,

says, room one.

Forever practicing her modern hieroglyphics,

under "chief complaint" she's written,

"25 y/o O+ c/o N/V x 2 wks (+K9)"

Postman or doctor?

As a courtesy, I always knock twice

before entering the exam room

and for a fleeting second,

I'm startled to see a large white German

Shepherd guarding the middle of the room.

The patient, malaised but not moribund,

perched atop the examining table,

says, down Zeus.

I introduce myself,

to both beauty and beast,

ask about her symptoms.

She says she's felt intermittently queasy

for a couple of weeks, mostly in the mornings,

but no diarrhea, abdominal pain, or fever.

Zeus's hackles rise

as I conduct my physical examination:

heart regular, lungs clear, abdomen soft, breasts slightly tender, trace ankle edema.

So I ask Leda about her menstrual periods—

she says, It's difficult to keep track,

I'm not always regular.

Then her eyes fly open—

she cries, Can't be, I haven't been with anyone

in a thousand years.

Just then, Zeus lets out a single bark—

as a slow blush creeps

up Leda's swan-like neck.


Pankaj Khemka has been writing poetry on and off for ten years, punctuated by periods of writer's block. His work appears in Star*Line, Rattle, Ghostlight, and this year's Rhysling anthology. Sometimes you can find him haunting various open-mics around Orange County, California.

Author's note

This poem was inspired by W.B. Yeats's poem, "Leda and the Swan," and by a prompt to write a poem about an embarrassing moment.