Wednesday, 27 February 2013

In the Bed Opposite My Father’s (Surgical Admissions.)

My sister once gave me a walnut shell
and in it was a foetus, ‘Bubbly’ pink.
The purpose of the gift was hard to tell,
a joke, an expression of hope?  No, I think
the intention was to shock; the contrast
of the smooth improbable embryo,
with the wizened, indehiscent case.
The miniature wrought from the soft ‘Fymo
a miracle hidden within the space,
a perfect, flawless detailed description,
the start of human life, down to the last
fingernail on those amphibious hands,
a recipe almost, or prescription,
the sculptors’ response to nature’s commands,
the model of the life giving placenta,
twisted from clay, both pink and magenta,
the tiny worm-like fallopian rope,
carrying imaginary blood and hope,
maternal, arterial, artistic,
venous, formed in a shell, Aphrodite,
Or Venus?  And I thought of it, when I saw,
across the hospital floor,
a Gurnigo Gubbins in hospital nightie,
curled on his bed and moaning quite loudly,
the foetus and walnut rolled into one,
casting nets in a ritualistic,
purposeless pattern, and rather proudly
gazing about him, then sinking back down,
and curling around the catheter hose,
the umbilical, miracle demi-john drainer.
No need for nappies or stinking bed clothes,
no need for any other restrainer,
for the catheter pipe as it racks,
the fine yellow vintage into the bag,
is tugged and yanked by the old wizened claws,
and a cry escapes from the toothless jaws,
and the other old men, flat on their backs,
wince in sympathy as he starts to drag,
and I run for a nurse, but he’s lignified,
callous, calloused, compassion spent. He knows
senility cannot be dignified,
and he casts it aside if his sympathy grows.
Does his atrophied outer shell retain
the embryonic, empathetic grain?

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