Sunday, April 01, 2012

A Patient's Tale 2.0

Rewrite of the Patient's Tale 1.0 poem for my Writer's Studio class. Which one do you like?

A Patient's Tale 2.0

Waiting in bed in the hospital,
“Pneumonia”, says the young man, I call
monsieur le docteur. He is educated, handsome
and infinitely successful - a hint of Hermes cologne on his lab coat.
I wear white pajamas. I am 84.
On my right, from the rectangular windows – the opera I observe,
the sick, the disabled, the late arrivals,
the newly departed, the families and strangers,
the grieving and the grateful.
On my skin the feathers of a beard have been shaven.
My hands are speckled and translucent,
coconut water drained from old husks.
The nurse pushes a tray closer, lukewarm tea,
a wheat biscuit and a bib, for my neck. A spoonful at a time,
I am fed the liquid with the softened mush.
Then I am wiped, powdered and diapered.
Later tucked inside layers of sheets
– clinical, pressed and sanitized.
Across from me, my sleep-talking neighbor.
Often the curtain separating our spaces is left open.
He speaks incessantly,
hounded by his own whispers.
He mumbles of airlifts and exodus.
Some words I cannot understand.
“So many have died.”
His wife and family – stand vigil with blankets and sponges
to cool the delirium. They hold his hands and kiss his forehead 
as if he were a saint.
He mutters the names of herbs,
silkworm sand and cassia bark,
purple thyme stem and tumeric.
chrysanthemum flower and cinnamon,
“for toothache or miscarriage.”
There is a little girl who appears in the late afternoons. 
She has a round face behind a row of black hair.
She offers a manderin to his nose. And peels it
and hides the long coil behind the radiator when no one is looking. 
She places the juicy wedge, tiny as an almond onto his lips.
When he does not move, she places it into her own mouth.
Next to his bed, his wife arranges a nest of roses like a house,
a plate of apples, oranges and green grapes
with a handful of joss sticks unlit.
How fragrant it all seems.
Sometimes he’ll hum a melody – marching and patriotic sounding.
Sometimes he’ll cry while she sweeps the tears away with her fingers.
Sometimes there is nothing but silence, at the end of the day,
a time excavated of all wounds,
as we incubate underneath the artificial lights
not too dissimilar to the glow of candles inside Notre Dame
and it is time to drift into the night again.
Above this floor and many others,
the moonlight slides onto the stage of the streets,
here in Paris, over
Cartagena, Saigon, Rome.
See the lovers meet and embrace.
Watch them holding hands,
A thousand splendid sparkles over the ether
No longer a glimpse but a feeling.

by Mai Brehaut

1 comment:

Cedric Brehaut said...



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