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Sunday 28 April 2013


Mum had promised the zoo,
the doctor shook his head
and vanished in a puff of pipe smoke
through the chimney breast.

Next up was mum
holding in her hands a camel's head --
the rest was parked behind,
zebra-striped and in its hump
a tiny first-aid cupboard door
from which mum took
a glass thermometer
for sticking under tongues.

I must have blinked
a quite amazing blink
that swapped the kitchen
and the bathroom round.
I saw mum wave a silver wand
and heard a noise and turned about
to see a great big crocodile
splash water from the bath
and pick the bones of what remained
of Peter's rubber duck.

A train came by
which all got on --
aunts, uncles, distant cousins,
folk I'd never seen.
We sat in open trucks.

They said it was a wonderland.
I swear we never moved,
and all I saw was fog --
until the train pulled in at last
and I lay in my bed.

And mother with the doctor's bottle,
bottle green and fluted glass,
the tallest cork I'd ever seen,
and -- as I now believe --
in big red letters,
LAUDANUM on the side.

Written for the prompt at dVerse Poets by ManicDdaily to Trip the Poem Fantastic -- the emphasis being on TRIP, of course.


Tabor said...

Such a wild and mystical place is disease for a child. It is another world created by them. Words were very visual in this, creating each clear (or foggy/smokey) scene.

kelvin s.m. said...

...ah, better than the actual zoo... and mums do know how to handle... thanks for the trip... i had fun... smiles...

The Weaver of Grass said...

Some trip Dave - your temperature must have been pretty high!

Brian Miller said...

oh my...that would def be a trip...growing up and even still on occassion i run very high fevers and they can def be quite the trip...the glass thermos...we had them as well...i was always suspicious as the normal one looked a lot like the rectal ones for babies too...ha...

Claudia said...

oh my...that was quite the fever trip...i never had such high fever that i got like halluzinatons...the fog and the train..ha...what a journey..

Anonymous said...

Ha! Well, a fever plus laudanum will take you pretty far I expect! Amazing that it was just par for the course for Victorians! You describe your "zoo" especially clever and I love the doctor disappearing Chagall-like up the chimney. I was in Northern Thailand once where opium is traded and so many of the people living there - and even our tour guide - get caught up in the dreams. Thanks. k.

brudberg said...

An interesting trip indeed.. Fever and opiates can do that... I'm happy you got through alright.

Mary said...

That was quite a 'trip,' Dave. Frightening for a child to have such a high fever. Amazing that you still remember it, really. I was write in there with you and the visuals.

Grace said...

That must have been a bad sick day/night for you and your mom ~

But how imaginative of you to think of the train, zoo and wonderland in your feverish state ~

Jim Froggatt said...

Paracetamol? Give me laudanum any day.

Cressida de Nova said...

Victorian poets used to take Laudanum to get high. I wonder if there are everlasting effects from this drug and it is a contributing factor to the writing of poetry:)

hedgewitch said...

Delightfull, David--very childlike and fresh. I had hallucinations from a fever once as a child(no laudenum, though, more's the pity) and they were very like this--a mix of every day with the incongruous. Lovely take on the prompt.

Carl said...

Quite a ride Dave. Your telling of it fresh and lively.

Elephant's Child said...

I remember fevers like this. And how the line between reality and my mind blurred...

Ygraine said...

Think you were on the brink of a near death experience here, Dave.
That merging of realities, combined with a fog (the Dragon's Breath, we Druids call it) that separates the Worlds.
And then there is the final mention of Laudanum.
That has long been reputed to induce visions of the World of Spirit!
What an experience! It almost makes me wish I were that ill...!

haricot said...

I remember the story of snow ball in the hospital, Dave. It's another memory on your bed, I suppose. Your Mom's wand really worked.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I ran a fever so high once as a child that they had to bathe me in ice water to bring it down!!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Lewis Carrol's echoes this time, enthralling.

A Cuban In London said...

Crazy! That was a fun read. It reminds me of a book I used to read to my children in Spanish. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Dave King said...

Thanks for all the interesting and supportive (which in my book include the critcal) comments. Unfortunately health is not allowing me to spend the time I need to reply to each of you personally, but I have been very cheered by your many resonses.

A few words perhapr about the trip itself. I had several bouts of fever as a child with temperatures over 101. This, I think, was the the most severe and went on for the longest time. I do, though, have several slightly conflicting memories of it, the one aspect which is constant is that of the camel, about which I have blogged before and related how I afterwards sent it as an idea to Michael Bentine's It's a Squiare World.

I do clearly remember Laudanum being prescribed on several occasions -- often for diarrhoea -- but whether it was prescribed by the doctor or not, I do not know. Interesting thought that it's effect might still be with me prompting my poetry! Who knows? Stranger things than that have been known. I do like the idea of the fog (Dragon's breath) that separates our two worlds. (I believe "brain fog" is a currently fashionable ailment to suffer from -- I wonder if there's a connection!)