by George Garrett
Here everything is white and clean
as driftwood. Pain’s localized
and suffering, strictly routine,
goes on behind a modest screen.
Softly the nurses glide on wheels,
crackle like windy sails, smelling of soap,
I’m needled and the whole room reels.
The Fury asks me how I feel
and, grinning turns to the brisk care
of an old man’s need, he who awake
is silent, at the window stares,
sleeping, like drowning, cries for air.
And finally the fever like a spell
my years cast off. I notice now
nurse’s firm buttocks, the ripe swell
of her breasts. It seems I will get well.
Next visitors with magazines;
they come whispering as in church.
The old man looks away and leans
toward light. Dying, too, is a routine.
I pack my bag and say goodbyes.
So long to nurse and this Sargasso Sea.
I nod to him and in his eyes
read, raging, the seabird’s lonely cries.