: 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 :
Himalayas of the mind are not so easily possessed.
There's many a precipice and storm between you and your Everest.
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
I break the bad news
those eight hours
* Published in frogpond XX : 3, December 1997