Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Infirmity

Dr. Van Stiefer, a man alarmed by illogic
and disquieted by the slightest chaos,
opened his surgery on Carriage Road East
to very little fanfare.

That would shortly change.

As a medical student, Van Stiefer could barely contain
his boredom when faced
with the halt and lame.

At St. Cecilia's Hospital,
attendings had to stop the young man
from amputating in cases of sprained ankles
out of ennui and expediency.

But now,
now is his moment.

Dr. Lars Van Stiefer has a revolutionary idea.
He hopes it will alleviate, or entirely prevent
an array of difficulties and infirmities.
He will treat romantic love as a neurological disorder,
like tremors, or rabies.

His patients, beset with every variety of odd behavior,
will be brought in by stretcher,
sedated,
and he will bandage their hearts, tightly,
with clean bandages,
leaving only the tiniest new scar.

Good order will be restored,
and following a brief period of recovery, 
they can go back to work,
or to their wives and husbands,
ready to face life with new health and calm.

Dr. Van Stiefer is celebrated, feted, 
asked to speak before august gatherings of renowned physicians.
The dreary halls of St. Cecilia's fade into dusky memory,
and the doctor takes to his celebrity
with dignified grace.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Van Stiefer's womanly emotions
begin to wobble on their axis.
When the doctor arrives home,
without ceremony,
without display,
without humor,
she broods, and piles his plate with medical texts,
inviting him to use them as
supper or suppositories,
though she does not phrase it exactly in that way.

Unknown to him,
she forges a sympathetic connection with his nurse,
a certain Miss Pelby.
By the time they have lunched once,
been to the variety stage show twice,
and kissed a third time,
the wheels are greased for her own severe case of nervous illness--
that is to say,
Love.

No surprise, then, that Dr. Van Stiefer,
faced with the unfamiliar landscape of this domestic hiccup,
should have brought her,
the very next day,
to his surgery.

Was Mrs. Van Stiefer homicidal?
The doctor's own writings declare this an impossibility
in a woman of good background.
Still,
she was found in the waiting room by a medical equipment salesman,
with a bloody sleeve and a fit of the giggles.

Dr. Van Stiefer's esteemed colleagues,
arriving at graveside,
discussed among themselves what ought to be done for the new widow.
"Death by misadventure" having claimed her husband,
it was decided,
for her,
by these learned men,
that the prudent thing would be to recommend her into the care of the late doctor's nurse.

Mrs. Van Stiefer stayed on in her house,
under Miss Pelby's expert care
for the duration of her uncommonly long convalescence.
________

Thank you to Shawna for the word list!

13 comments:

Kerry O'Connor said...

Oh, Shay! What a way for me to start my day!
Too, too fine a tale!

The intro to your protagonist was intriguing, but I had no idea where it was all going until dear Mrs was introduced to the reader. That stanza is sheer brilliance... thereafter is was just a matter of time before the doctor got what was coming to him!

Sioux said...

A rollicking good time was had by all--the readers and especially by the widow and Nurse Pelby.

Bravo, Shay! Encore! (I think you should write a series of poems, each one telling the story of some woman giving a man what he so decidedly "deserves.")

Daryl said...

a tale well told

TexWisGirl said...

a wonderful ride. :)

Shawna said...

I love that picture! This is incredibly clever---love is certainly an infirmity. What's that Jim Carrey movie that's similar to this? Something about a spotless mind ... the "doctors" erase the "patient's" memories to allow him/her to move on from a broken heart.

These are my favorites from your fantastic and gripping story poem:

"alarmed by illogic"
"disquieted by the slightest chaos"
"could barely contain ... with the halt and lame"
Stanza 4
adding his first name in Stanza 6 to personalize things
"like tremors, or rabies" (Perfect!)
beset/behavior/brought/bandage
odd/brought/hearts/scar
"celebrated, feted, asked to speak before august gatherings"
face/celebrated/takes/grace
feted/speak
"piles his plate with medical texts"
"inviting him to use them as
supper or suppositories,
though she does not phrase it exactly in that way" (My absolute favorite part.)
Stanza 11
sympathetic/connection
"domestic hiccup" (Ha!)
"'Death by misadventure' having claimed her husband"
"for the duration of her uncommonly long convalescence"

Great rhyme/sound throughout. Excellent ending. :) What a fun piece, Shay. I loved it; your doctor poems always stand out to me.

Sorry to quote so much! Impressive work, as always.

hedgewitch said...

Story poem indeed, and most entertaining. I love a happy ending. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease, but in this case,once the doctor is , er, cut out, NOT. My favorite part is the plate full of medical texts and their suggested purposes.

HermanTurnip said...

Touching. Brought a tear to my eye. I give it 9 out of 10 scalpels.

I hope she was able to get those nasty blood stains out of her shirt.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

So good, and so hilarious. No one can tell a tale like you do. This one was extra-fine. I especially love the fit of the giggles.

Mama Zen said...

"inviting him to use them as
supper or suppositories"

I am so stealing that!

Sara said...

Oh, what a way to end my day. This one was a hoot:~) I am so pleased Mrs. Van Stiefer ended up in the care of Miss Polly for the "duration of her uncommonly long convalescence." LOL this was great and I enjoyed the laugh:~)

Lynn said...

Love the sort of Victorian language you use here to tell the tale. :)

Lolamouse said...

Supper or suppositories--love it! Reminds me of an Italian saying my husband's family used to say, which roughly translated meant "Eat this or eat shit!"

myheartslovesongs.com said...

entirely too entertaining to be allowed!!!