A poem addressed to Anne Carson
My husband is wheeled from emergency to theatre
along a hallway carpeted with silence.
Escorted to a waiting room, almost fin de siècle Victorian,
I survey medical books encased by glass and
blighted like old taxidermy.
The registrar, wearing a Freudian beard, stalls at the door,
unimpressed by my progress in mourning.
The heart has failed, he insists.
He draws a childish diagram on a scrap of paper
pressed onto the coffee table.
I must strike him as thoughtless, but I am thinking.
Hospitals were not always like this.
When I was a girl, gurney wheels trundled on a bright-and-shine floor
that disinfected all memory of grief
—sanitised the griever, whole.
Now, with the registrar spilling words, I am cleaning up after him,
revising his sentences into tidy units of five or ten,
repeating the most pleasing combinations again and again.
My fingers type at my side, next to invisible.
The only person who would see them has, by now, been anaesthetised.
I did not invent the typewriter, but at some point in the high school
typing pool, it secretly invented me:
aaa space bbb.
Before then, I was silent as a rabbit beneath
the zig zag of a classroom ceiling,
enthralled by Pythagorean heaven.
Then suddenly: a surge of electricity.
The machine was oneiric, like good gothic technology.
It brought words to my fingertips—words, words, words—
to be purified through mathematics.
But here the registrar, persisting with his lesson on the heart,
knows nothing of my scientific art.
When he finally leaves, satisfied I am pathological,
I remove a laptop from my black bag of tricks,
usurping the drawing of cardiac arrest.
Nox is not here.
Your book on grief is at home amongst my alphabetised books,
a perfect accordion sheaf folded in a rectangular box.
You might understand how I compose.
This elegiac poem, recounted just so.
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones