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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

"My best friend died here"

dVerse Poet's Pub Open Link Night speaks of superstitions and particularly those involving the number 13. This set my mind working along that particular track.

"BROMPTON HOSPITAL
FOR THE CONSUMPTION
AND DISEASE OF THE CHEST."
Big letters on Victorian red brick
above a too-imposing entrance.
(Red once, but soot-encrusted now.)
I and the day are both thirteen.
I'm not exactly superstitious,
but in the light of those dread words
can not afford to take too many chances -
or so I feel. I ask my mother
and my aunt, "What are my chances?"
My aunt is quick to reassure: "It's lovely here -
My best friend died in here just recently."

I should have brought the rabbit's foot
my friend had offered me. I am not ill.
Not now, but have been so each year
since I was five years old. I've come
"for observation only" - which, I reason,
should improve my prospects.
(The family are frightened of T.B.
I do not know at this stage
that consumption is T.B.)

Neither do I know the treats in store for me:
a stunning view across the London roof tops -
from the hospital's theatre;
and then a fun broncoscopy - a periscope
inserted down the windpipe. No fibre optics then;
a rubber pipe with lights and mirrors
like a prestidigitator's dream.
I didn't see the show. I couldn't wait,
went into shock and saw them all
back stage when it was done.
My aunt was still in form:
explained how many patients died -
though not me! (Which I
already had worked out.)

18 comments:

kaykuala said...

I just don’t fancy being in or near hospitals. It gives me the creeps. It is depressing and sad and even the nurses smell of medicine. You’ve rendered it beautifully, Dave!

Hank

JeannetteLS said...

Having just had a battery of most unpleasant tests in a facility JUST for such tests, this felt a little too close to home.

the methods change somewhat, but always involve poking things into whatever hurts the most.

This was a tad chilling... while funny. Not always an easy feat, Dave.

PS... My verification word is scedlyme. I don't know, but I think that should be a word.

You can make poetry out of anything. this, for me just clinches the deal.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Dave, your blog is tremendously "fast", before I read your two latest posts, I would like to put in my blog a powerful poem by Carol Rumens in which I felt a strong connection with your marvellous "Before You First Had Sex".

Best wishes,
Davide
( Tommaso )

Tabor said...

You seem to find the upside to the downside in this. Good job.

hedgewitch said...

Quite a visceral piece, or maybe esophagal would be a better term...a harrowing experience passed along in a chillingly calm understated voice.

Windsmoke. said...

I've been lucky over the years to have never been admitted to hospital or had to have any serious tests done but this poem is frightening and at the same light hearted :-).

Mary said...

I like this, Dave. I think you really capture the mind of a thirteen-year-old. I am glad medicine has progressed a bit since those somewhat primitive methods back then.

Carl said...

Bravo for being able to recall how these things felt and meant as a kid and the ability to play them back with gravity and a touch of levity.

Another winner!

seasodeauthor said...

Scary real life here. Well done.

yellowhousecafe said...

You've painted the most harrowing scene...well done ~

sunny said...

Hi Mr Dave,the way of presentation of yours is beautiful,best of luck

The Orange Tree said...

this is haunting,

hospital death of a friend, Glad that you are able to enjoy London review.

Isabel Doyle said...

hospital dramas - that's why they call it the 'theatre'

lovely piece of reminiscing

Dave King said...

kaykuala
I have to agree with all b ut the last sentence. Thanks.

Jeanette
I do feel for you. I've had a few over the years, but just now they are all for enough in the past that I can look back on them with some equanimity. Tad chilling... while funny? It pleases me that you found it so. It was the best I was hoping for, so much thanks for saying it.

Tommaso
A most generous comment indeed. I am humbled to be spoken of in the same context as Carol Rumens. I shall look forward to reading her poem.

Tabor
Now I do. At the time I didn't.

hedgewitch
A warm welcome to you. It's good to have your visit and your comment. I think I'd settle for esophagal.

Windsmoke
It did happen way back in the dark ages, remember.

Mary
Thanks for this. Yes, we should all celebrate the progress made, I think.

Carl
Thanks very much. Really pleasing that you find these aspects in it.

seasodeauthor
Hi, good to have your visit. Thank you for commenting. The feedback is always much appreciated.

yellowhousecafe
Welcome and many thanks for your visit. Also your kind comment.

sunny
Thanks. Generous as always.

The Orange Tree
Thank you so much for visiting and for giving your reactions. Much appreciated.

Isabel
Ah, that makes sense - they dress up for it, too! Thanks for commenting.

joanna said...

I'll probably get a lot of funny 'looks' for this comment, but I love old hospitals! There's an element of creepiness that has something to do with how people's ideas and instrumentation have changed in dealing with the preservation of health. It's a tiny bit macabre, and a lot of fascination for me. You paint the scene quite vividly here, both the "set" of the drama and your reactions to it.

Brian Miller said...

ugh man...you put us right into it...just had outpatient surgery yesterday...dont like hospitals but glad they are there i guess...smiles.

ArtistUnplugged said...

Hahaha, always comforting when accompanying ones feel the need to discuss death while your at the hospital! Thirteen? My number, born on it, live with it.

Thank you for your most kind comments posted on my site.

jabblog said...

Everyone needs an aunt like yours:-)Job's comforter . . .