Thursday, June 27, 2019
After the Doctor
The light in Sophie's bedroom in the late afternoon is incredible. I'll walk by and just stand there staring at it and her and wish I could walk into it, truly walk into light so that I might become light again. Because I'm near spent. Because I almost never feel light these days. I feel heavy, literally and figuratively. I am not as resilient as I once was or perhaps, if I'm kind (always kind) to myself I might attribute this heaviness to the years, the years or perhaps to upcoming transitions (Oliver leaving), those existential changes that take even the strong by surprise in their intensity. Today I went to the doctor, and I tried to explain this malaise, this lack of resiliency, this burning feeling in my throat that persists and this ache in my hips. Is something wrong? Really wrong? I think, I wonder. I have scanned the worldwide webs, have allowed the slip in -- you know how that goes, right? -- of guilt, of reckoning, because, really, how fortunate can one possibly be when one endures so much stress on an ongoing basis? I let that slip in my mind, the thought that it was all going to come home to roost, as they say, that instead of morphing into my peasant grandmother and die demented at 88, I'd get sick and who has time for that? I spoke with rue of my weight of the necessity of exercise and losing weight and the doctor agreed. You'll feel better, he said. And what about these? I showed him the starbursts of blue on the backs of my legs. They don't hurt, I said, and he said, I wouldn't worry. The blood work was fine, the blood pressure is normal and the new burn in my throat from stress, he said. Here, take this. The way these things are doled out, so casually and why would he know that I in my peculiar writerly way will note this, will note the casual shrug, the burn in the throat reduced to acronym (GERD) and take this for 8 weeks and do this (exercise) and that (lose weight) and you'll feel better but I'll know better from better and there's still that light, nearly spent.
Here's a poem by Mark Doty:
Late August morning I go out to cut
spent and faded hydrangeas — washed
greens, russets, troubled little auras
of sky, as if these were the very silks
of Versailles, mottled by rain and ruin
then half-restored, after all this time...
When I come back with my handful
I realize I’ve accidentally locked the door,
and can’t get back into the house.
The dining room window’s easiest;
crawl through beauty bush and spirea,
push aside some errant maples, take down
the wood-framed screen, hoist myself up.
But how, exactly, to clamber across the sill
and the radiator down to the tile?
I try bending one leg in, but I don’t fold
readily; I push myself up so that my waist
rests against the sill, and lean forward,
place my hands on the floor and begin to slide
down into the room, which makes me think
this was what it was like to be born:
awkward, too big for the passageway…
When I give myself
to gravity there I am, inside, no harm,
the dazzling splotchy flowerheads
scattered around me on the floor.
Will leaving the world be the same
—uncertainty as to how to proceed,
some discomfort, and suddenly you’re
—where? I am so involved with this idea
I forget to unlock the door,
so when I go to fetch the mail, I’m locked out
again. Am I at home in this house,
would I prefer to be out here,
where I could be almost anyone?
This time it’s simpler: the window-frame,
the radiator, my descent. Born twice
in one day!
In their silvered jug,
these bruise-blessed flowers:
how hard I had to work to bring them
into this room. When I say spent,
I don’t mean they have no further coin.
If there are lives to come, I think
they might be a littler easier than this one.