May31

Walt Whitman
Some days break us.
As a boy I was broken
on ward G2 and my
whole family watched. My
Mum stood on his left side,
to tend his Lilies. My
Gran sat in the chair
on his right and held
his hand. My Aunt, Uncle
and cousin guarded the
foot of his death bed.

When we arrived it took me
a full minute to stumble upon
his reduced aspect.
Recognition kicked me
professionally in the guts.
I expected the countenance of the man
I'd grown up with, but the
sight of this broken,
shivering, shrunken, shell
winded me to abstraction.

All the small things
suddenly became large.
I studied the clustering dust
scuttle under the next bay.
Reviewed innocent rain riding
the wind, like a playground ride,
and, waving playfully, issue
clutches of clouding crossfire.
I revised his, now shrivelled,
fingers, pointing, as usual,
at my growing pains.

Time caught up with me
and bullied me into
the inevitable conversation.
His eyes settled cooly upon me
as I consulted the ceiling,
the wall, my watch, the hole
in my jeans. How was I‽ How
is it going at University‽
If I appeared on University
Challenge: Nathan Cocker
Reading: Maturity.

My inevitable scratching
soon ceased when the repeating
machine fell silent, synchronised
with his pain. I found him then.
His eyes closed, but he pointed
eternally on. I was still and dry
but the change stared me straight
so I packed away all my toys,
sharpened the razor for my
first shave and the pieces of
childhood fell away and I
walked out a broken man.

Walt Whitman, American Poet, Essayist and journalist, was born today in 1819.

Clint Eastwood, American actor, filmmaker, musician and politician, was born today in 1930.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. eob2 says:

    What do you think has become of the young and old men? And what do you think has become of the women and children? They are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceas’d the moment life appear’d. All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

    Walt Whitman

  2. Wonderful poem! Grim, heart felt, and more grim.

  3. MomzillaNC says:

    A brilliant piece. Well penned.

Leave a Reply