Monday, March 14, 2016

213B

In this wing, on this floor, in this room ("my" room)
I assume she must be a woman,
though I'm not sure and
don't care.

She is wound and stitched like a baseball.
She has soared, and fallen,
rolled and stopped.
She is Icarus, that precious dumb-ass, with hawk-heart and glider balsa.

Put this on her (his?) chart:
I love her. All of my poems, scratched out left-handed through a
fog of medications, are fragments of the cosmos,
stanzas of burst confetti stars,
and oh,
oh,
how I do go on.

All night, she alternates between coma and suffocation,
drawing moth-nurses at 3 a.m. to the light that is her.
They coo, stick, shock and revive her,
and though stumbling residents up to their eyeballs in vending machine coffee hold the paddles,
it is the nurses who coax her back like sirens on some rocky shore.

She is Ulysses. She is Gina Lollobrigida, Madonna and Sylvia Plath.
How can I sleep in such a crowded room, which expands like a heart
with her every dream, her every sigh?

Dawn comes, and the murder of dark birds that is her family arrives.
They cock their heads and strut along the top of the divider.
"Are you going to finish that?
The jello?
The July issue of Redbook?
Life itself?" 

If I could handle weaponry right now I would scatter them,
but a pen is all I have--
that, and the raw, almost painful devotion I have come to have for her.
Doctors and friends shake their heads.
"You have to want to get well." 

Oh mercy, look at me. 
If she lay her beautiful bandaged head on my breast,
I would grit my teeth and not scream;
I would pet her and whisper to her like a velvet bell in the House of the Holy Concubines
and then I would pass out, from joy and pain.

They want to transfer me to another floor, to a place
--they say--
where I can get the type of care a woman like me needs.
They talk to me as if I were crouched on a ledge, twenty floors above the parking lot and threatening to jump,
but I am simply in love. Is that so hard to understand?

(End note, written during a break by Cheryl Durban, R.N.)
Patient transferred to psych this morning, but left behind these notebooks full of uncommonly beautiful poems. The roommate's name was on the first page, but roommate is PVS and family says the books aren't hers and to throw them away. Alert janitorial; I can't be the one to do it.)

15 comments:

K9friend said...

Wow. This poem blew me away. After reading the end note, I went back and re-read the piece. Heartrendingly beautiful, Shay.

Pat
Critter Alley

hedgewitch said...

'..drawing moth-nurses at 3 a.m. to the light that is her..' (!!) So dangerous to love the wounded, but like to like in this poem, full of a sense of madness as well as affinity, attraction, personality disassembled and scattered by forces supposed to nurture, restore order and balance, that instead make matters debilitatingly worse.I could quote so much of this back to you, but especially the murder of families, (are you going to finish that...Life...?) the second stanza, and the surreal but devastating up-close-and-personal finish, where we can see the fate we don't want to look at or truly identify creep close. Here you give us the face of the paramour, wrapped in her shrouded bandages, the mystery she is looking back at one in the night with one's own covered eyes--really excellent work, Shay.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I read this as the poetry being the beloved on the sick bed, and the writer the lover hoping to keep the object of affection alive - but perhaps that's just how I feel at present.

A beautiful and affecting poem, Shay.

Brendan MacOdrum said...

This is like reading "Moby Dick" on the boards that washed ashore. The P. sure gets around. Brilliant, amen, god bless.

Bekkie Sanchez said...

Wow, this was remarkable! What an imagination you have! I enjoyed it's quirkiness so much!

Cloudia said...

can't be the one to do it. Just the one to allow it. That says much

De said...

This is simply stunning. It leaves me quite breathless.

said...

Obviously I adore this poem. Especially this: "She is Icarus, that precious dumb-ass, with hawk-heart and glider balsa." This is real love: seeing someone for the dumb-ass they are and caring deeply for them anyway. :)

"All night, she alternates between coma and suffocation" Sheesh, does this sound familiar.

[You have a double "the" here: "it is the the nurses"]

I love this line as well: "She is Ulysses. She is Gina Lollobrigida, Madonna and Sylvia Plath."

It's like you've installed hidden cameras in my house:
"Dawn comes, and the murder of dark birds that is her family arrives.
They cock their heads and strut along the top of the divider.
'Are you going to finish that?
The jello?
The July issue of Redbook?
Life itself?'"

I'm sorry you're in so much pain; otherwise, I think I'd beg you to scatter them. :) Maybe when you're feeling better ...

"You have to want to get well." ... I love that this line applies to both you and her, in various ways. You both seem to embrace your own kind of crazy/sick. (Ooh, Crazy Beautiful. Love that movie.)

"If she lay her beautiful bandaged head on my breast,
I would grit my teeth and not scream" ... That is saying something! :) This makes me think of parenting. I do this all the time.

I love this:
"... to a place
--they say--" ... Ew. To a "place." No way. It's always better to be in a non-place. That way, no one can make you change the bed pans! (I read it both ways --- as if the speaker were a patient and also as if she were a nurse.)

That last word is brilliant: "under stand" ... stand under, meaning, "Please, please can't you just catch me when I jump?"

Every time you take a break, you come back with a poetic vengeance, girl!

This is very Girl Interrupted, which is one of my favorite movies (obviously).

Mama Zen said...

What a wild and beautiful fall. The last line of the note just breaks me.

Sioux said...

The end note is a perfect finale for this poem.

As always (after reading one of your pieces), my mouth is gaping open right now.

Marcoantonio Arellano said...

so well described, the person in love in room 213b. the bandages and wounds all cosmetic and collateral to being in love. if her head would lay upon my chest i would feel in the palm of my hand the scars, the bandages the, the mesh wrappings while hearing...are you going to eat that jello?

this is a rendering of a quiet lamenting voice who wishes to keep it this way

gracias shay for sharing

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Wonderful and brilliant, and far too many searing phrases to quote. (But I particularly love the End Note – even though I don't know what PVS means and Google won't tell me.) You certainly rose to Brendan's challenge! I genuflect.

Fireblossom said...

Rosemary--PVS means "persistent vegetative state." I thought about spelling it out, but i thought that, in a medical note by a nurse, she wouldn't. I probably should have done it as a footnote.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh my goodness, a fantastic trip, this poem is, and then that end note which just knocks it right out of the park. Your pen is on fire.......

Hannah said...

Wonderful imagery and metaphors throughout, Shay!