Saturday, August 13, 2022

At The Hospital

 
 
 

 
 At The Hospital

 
 
Pendants of light
reflections reversed
bent on slick white tile
random voices
in chained rooms
living out their untold
fortunes. Are fortunes told
or are they read,
written in a book of days
all numbered
not visible except
through curving crystal?
Or are they droned
the same tune every time
inside the skull,
mortality's earworms?
I am indifferent.
The gypsy broke my cup;
my tea leaves spilled.
 
 
 
 
circa 2019, rev. March 2022 















posted for earthweal's











 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Images: Sun In An Empty Room, 1963, © Edward Hopper   Fair Use
The Fortune Teller, 1933, © Brassai            Fair Use 

19 comments:

  1. Strange, yesterday I pulled out three boxes of my mother's memories from the attic, retirement affording me time to fulfill my promise to purge what's up there. Four years later, attachment to memory is faint, like probing beams on an old shipwreck on the seabottom. The fated is that faint in this poem -- a drone of "mortality's earworms" -- even the grief still pierces deeply both the life and the work of refracting it. In the end, there's little we can understand, the myths (and poems) only take us to the edge where it vanished. There was a folder of stuff my mother had kept of my older brother's growing up and adulthood, and I'll mail it to him. He had sent me yesterday a photo of him with his hair completely cut off -- chemo was ridding it anyway.

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    1. Sub "yet" for "even" in the third sentence of my replay.

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    2. Thanks, B. The worst part of the whole thing is the foreshadowing of loss, and how devastatingly complete it is, taking everything except memories,and even those, as you say, are faint and pale, mere markers of something that has changed irrevocably. It's being immersed in process like a landslide, watching the inexorable inroads, seeing the bare human without any vanity except a flickering flame of dying hope, and without any ornament except pain. I don't know if any poem can really touch that, certainly not anything I am capable of writing, but perhaps the shadows of it shows a little here. We are the only candles we have in that darkness, so all my sympathies for your brother, and your family.

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  2. Love the closure of the poem... there is a defiance there to the inevitable, despite a heavier acceptance...

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  3. So many painful stories in hospitals. I often think of people in there as I walk about in the sunshine. Your two closing lines are superb.

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    1. Thanks, dear Sherry. I enjoyed your 'blast from the past,' where so much of who we are was made.

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  4. "living out their untold
    fortunes. Are fortunes told
    or are they read,
    written in a book of days
    all numbered"

    dark things in those lines. is it better to know your fate, or discover your fate? (or even, somehow sidestep fate... but who wants to live forever, as freddie mercury once sang, in a song that wrote as he was dying... if i remember right) well written, i like how almost all of your detailed are out of full focus, unclear, echoes your message

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    1. Yeah, I went oblique on this one, philip--it was written several years ago when I could hardly write anything, and it has a boiled down to bones feel for me, good or bad. Thanks for always having something insightful to say, and for the pleasure of reading your own work, which is rising like a well-yeasted sourdough.

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  5. Are fortunes told
    or are they read,
    written in a book of days
    all numbered

    That is an interesting concept to ponder, I once met a fortuneteller who wanted to read my palm and I looked into her eyes and said perhaps, I should read yours....she hesitated and said perhaps, a seer sees more...something to ponder...we parted with a new understanding of mystic forces...who knows what came into play that day.

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    1. Ps Hospitals can be places of healing but, often they are a place of loss. My mother has been ill for several years and those hospital visits leave an unsettledness.

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    2. I find hospitals to be places of commerce and indifference, mostly tho of course, healing can happen, too. Thanks for the feedback, Trudessa.

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  6. There's plenty of time to ponder in the hospital; yet I think that it was too much pondering that put them there. Hospitals should be recreational parks where nature pulls patients out of their heads. I just recently read a quote somewhere (paraphrasing) "minds are great tools but they should never be in charge." Thank you for the evocative read, Joy.

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  7. I love this write, Joy, especially the last two lines:

    "The gypsy broke my cup;
    my tea leaves spilled."

    The indifference with which you treat the unfolding of fortunes told, the way you debunk what is written or fated - I love this stance you take. And I'm so glad I can finally comment on your posts now! Thank you for adjusting your settings :-)

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    1. I'm so glad to see you here, Sun Ra, and to hear your thoughts on what I write. Thanks so much for persevering.

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  8. This was a very interesting write. The title made it all the more interesting. I think our fates are already written, but I'm a person who likes the freedom of not knowing what happens next. But I'm sure other people think differently when it comes to mortality and knowing futures.

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  9. Hospitals hold a heaviness to me and you have so beautifully brought that to light in this lovely poem Joy! I agree, they are places of commerce and indifference. I guess it is hard to see the right light there for me because I have had several loved ones pass away right there at the hospital.

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  10. hospital. can't spell it without spit. I get another blood draw next Thursday, to see if (beyond reason) the last was a false positive. when my fortune is told to me - read, first, in an impersonal email, more likely - I'll find out the next steps. perhaps just more waiting. perhaps more needles and the like. 2 years ago during radiation my chances were 1 in 3 of not lasting 5 years. I understand odds... being mathematical. and odd :)... so maybe I'll return a bit to poetry, like this, to remind me that even broken cups are worth remembering. ~

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    1. Worth remembering, and worth patching up. I feel for you, M. The poking, the x-rays, the scans and the waiting: the endless rote routine of cancer is one of the most soul-killing aspects--a coping mechanism, but one that drains expectations into a bitter concentrate. I hope the news you hear--impersonally, mechanically, as per the whole construct--is good news, and the odds are in your favor. My thoughts are with you. And my poetry, of course, when I can find it. Thanks for reading.

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"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats