On his first day, the resident calls
his mother to say he’s a doctor doctor.

She answers, Yes yes! to confirm his doctor
and her yes. She tells him his doctor doctor

is lexical cloning, repeating a word to indicate
the prototypical meaning is intended,

but hers is something else: epizeuxis,
repeating a word for emphasis. Ten hours

later, when he’s offered for dinner the other
half of a granola bar, he says he wants

food food. And even later, almost midnight,
he asks a crying woman to follow him

into the small room, and he says, Did not
survive. And then she asks, Dead dead?

He remembers medical school, his first day,
when he still dreamed about entomology.

So the woman in shock will understand
her husband is gone, he reaches for her hand

and says, Dead dead. Once the word epizeuxis
to him meant only a species of silver moth.


Kristin Robertson