“You won’t even know it’s there,” said the surgeon.
“My brother-in-law sure did,” I replied referring to the incident in the ICU which I witnessed.
AS he was coming out of his sleep, he became aware of the tube down his throat and began struggling with it so violently that he had to be held down while he was put back to sleep. He stayed that way for three days.
“You won’t even be aware of it,” the surgeon said, “and if you are you won’t remember.”
I decided to go with that. In the end you have to put your faith in something.
Still, some days later as I was wheeled into the operating theatre, the last conscious thought was of that tube down my throat.
Many hours later as I slowly awoke, I remember the doctor saying, “the breathing tube is out now, you can speak.”
“What breathing tube?” I asked.
The thing is, if you don’t know something has happened to you, has it really happened?
* inspired by Billy Mac’s ‘A Daughter’s Love’ from his ‘Superman can’t find a phone booth’ blog
Perhaps I’m missing out, I thought, but the more he banged on about his lathes, routers and table saws, whipping out his mobile snaps of bench tops, bread boards, dodgy cricket bats and the blocky blokes around him in the Men’s Shed, I thought not and when he finally asked me what I did and I said chirpily, I write poetry, conversation shut down like a roller door.
Creativity is a terrible thing,
When it gets you in its clutches.
It won’t let you sleep, rest.
It jerks you awake,
Kicks you out of bed,
And before you know it
You’re at the keyboard
At 3 a.m.
Belting out a poem
Belting through the bleariness
To get it down
Then head back to bed
Where it starts again
The brain twitch, the jerk,
The plummet into wakefulness.
You don’t even make a living out of it
But it’s the way you’re living
The gift, equal curse
But when that sweet chariot swoops you up,
Oh the rush, the voltage,
You’d trade your grandmother for it
Were she still around.
Forgive me. I am not myself today.
I wasn’t myself yesterday either.
To tell you the truth, I’m really uncertain whether I will be myself tomorrow.
Or the next day. Or the next.
Where I’ve gone to, I just don’t know.
I have informed the police, the Missing Person’s Bureau.
They have put out an all points alert.
I take time off work.
I go looking for myself in bars, parks, in shopping malls.
I take photographs of myself to show them what I looked like.
Ugly bastard, someone quips.
Go easy, I say. He’s not a bad bloke once you get to know him.
The rest shake their heads sadly.
I go home, hang my hat on the rack and sit down morosely on the old lounge.
Ahh, there you are, I say, almost sitting on top of me.
I was here all along, he says. Where have YOU been?
She calls from one of the Northern beaches.
“We were going mad, “ she says. “We had to get out the house, You know what it’s like. You start twiddling your thumbs, staring at the wall…”
“Or even climbing it,” I add.
“Yeh, like a spider,” she says.
“Or even the ceiling.”
“Things look better from up there,” I say.
“You okay, granddad?”
“Yeh, I’m okay. You kids have a good time, Thanks for calling.”
And I crawl a little further along the ceiling. A fat, juicy fly has landed nearby. With one bound ,,,,
Your poems are standoffish, he says.
You put fences around them to keep
‘Trespassers Prosecuted’ signs to keep
Your poems secure,
Guard dogs patrolling the perimeter
Snarly with menace.
Call off the dogs, he says
Open up your poems.
What are you afraid of?
People got to walk around.
Let the sunshine in.
You’re supposed to listen to your writing coach, right?
Okay, okay, I say
As I take down the tall palings
One by one.
Put up a Welcome sign.
It’s a little scary for me too.
While on the subject of elephants , I had a friend once we all called ‘2 ply’ because he was thick-skinned; he didn’t feel like the rest of us; things had to be intense to get through that extra layer but when they did, he felt and gave out generously. Some found him a little distant.
My mother had a saying, “I can forgive but not forget.” She was good at grudges. My uncle, who was the recipient on more than one occasion, said she carried a chip on her shoulder big as a butcher’s block.
My other uncle had elephantiasis. He was always adjusting himself in the groin area. It looked like he was playing with himself in public. He and auntie never had children. Some nights in adolescence I would lie awake and think about uncle and his swollen scrotum. I had a ghoulish fascination with enlarged body parts. Doesn’t everyone?