“My body is a ghost
No one about but my intelligence

A bell rang for afternoon rest
She snuggled, wriggling toes under the thin blanket
The weight of things to have to do left

For others. Drip by intravenous drip, liquid moments
Slipping past, minutely marked in measures
Of vital signs and the ward clocks

Keeping pace. The monitor spewed luminous zig-zags
With constancy. A reassuring scrutiny yet keeping tabs
Cast doubt between the pulse, as if such spans

Were truly tight-roped time. And still her limbs
Languid in the sick bed, would not climb
Far from its grasp. Had she fallen victim

To seductive lethargy? This novel willingness
A Stockholm syndrome sign of sickness.
Submission to an opiate order – such stillness

bordering on defeat. It felt then that death
was reeling out the winding sheet, earth
readying itself to open. She caught her breath

to arrest the poised, primal scream. A quickening
mind surfaced in clear, cold realisation, awakening
desires beyond doors, for all the uncertainty of Spring

Epigraph from  Elizabeth Jennings' 'Decision on a July night' and with this poem for my Poetics prompt, I've aimed to invoke her commitment to formal verse and somewhat ambivalent attachment to ORDER

35 thoughts on “Decision

  1. You not only set the prompt, Laura, you also set the bar high with your poem. You’ve captured the atmosphere of a hospital ward in the lines:
    ‘…Drip by intravenous drip, liquid moments
    Slipping past, minutely marked in measures
    Of vital signs and the ward clocks
    Keeping pace…’
    ‘Submission to its opiate order brought stillness
    bordering on defeat….’

  2. Oh my gosh, this is an amazing read. I am right there in this hospital ward. I am so VERY glad there is a spring that brings life at the end!

  3. Oh, this is so good… I needed to read it a few time to really get to that struggle of the structure of order acting like a warden of the prison… I like the thought of spring bringing some well-deserved chaos.

  4. You took us all to the hospital with this one, so beautifully describing the nuances of a hospital ward. I’m glad for the thoughts of Spring at the end!

  5. I used to have a T-shirt that read “Choose Life”. To fight against chaos, to struggle with adversity, to say NO to the kiss of death–all such necessary messaging during this dark time; nice job.

  6. The imagery is so powerful in this poem, from “liquid moments slipping past”, and “tightroped time” (which reminded me of Shane Koyzan’s “To this day”) and Death reeling out the winding sheet.
    Thank you.
    The Lonely Recluse

    1. yes the door is always there – reminds me a bit of these lines from Eliot
      ” I have heard the key
      Turn in the door once and turn once only
      We think of the key, each in his prison
      Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison”

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