Haibun : Eight Hours

At medical school, they never taught us how to break bad news. Comfort the patient, stay calm, do not fear, pain is only in the mind, or in that phantom limb. You're better says the physician, and with a dracula smile orders more tests - blood samples, x-rays, echoes, referrals - if better why all these investigations. You tire easily so you must take more oxygen, at least eight hours a day. Tied to the oxygen cylinder, an umbilical cord to survival dream of snow in the mountains and the ski slopes where we christied. Snowbound inside the white expanse of quilt, my knees tenting it into mountains over which only my fingers climb, play chess against myself remembering Edmund Hillary's quote :

Those Himalayas of the mind are not so easily possessed.
There's many a precipice and storm between you and your Everest.

Even the cicadas are silent, the hiss of the oxygen, the ticking clock, his gentle snore, the cocker whimpering in her dreams - moonglow intrudes. Earlier in the evening we'd watched a comet. With its flamboyant tail it whisks across the sky leaving other stars staring. In my mask, I am that comet, that space traveller racing past galaxies to keep a tryst with eternity.


  needing more oxygen
I break the bad news
to myself
breathing easier
those eight hours
unconquered Himalayas

* Published in frogpond XX : 3, December 1997


Copyright Angelee Deodhar, 2000