Total Pageviews

Monday, May 4, 2009

Me and My Knee

A sestina is a poem of six 6-line stanzas, the lines ending in the same six words, but never in the same order, followed by three lines which include the first two words, then the next two, then the final two. It is a difficult form, maybe more of a math problem than a poem, and there need not be rhyme, iambic pentameter, or any other such familiar phrasing. I wrote this one just before a knee arthroscopy.

Me and My Knee

It is far too soon for this night,
the one before the surgery
to mend my damaged knee.
It is nothing, really, to fear,
at least say my friends and doctor
alike, though friends have no need of his skill.

Rather than good luck, I’d prefer good skill
as their best wish on this too-soon night,
and also good night, sleep tight to my doctor,
who’s traits magical must become surgical
in early morning’s light. In truth, I fear
the thirst and hunger of the fast more than the swollen knee.

I’ve live so long with this wounded knee,
still mine because of a corpsman’s skill,
decades ago, amidst battlefield fears,
in a screaming black night,
swept by chopper to surgery,
surrounded by fatigued nurses and doctors.

Over forty years, so many doctors,
all amazed at the state of my knee,
few believing that field surgery
could be performed with such skill,
while rockets rained down in the din of night,
all of the medics containing their fear.

It’s tangible and real, the matter of fear,
mastered by the wills of both patient and doctor.
No point in allowing the sounds of the night
to betray the focus on arms, feet and knee.
What mattered was using all available skill
in dim-lit, earth-trembling surgery.

I knew it was only a first step, this surgery.
There’d be plenty of rehab and pain yet to fear.
I had to rely on the nerve and the skill
of the nurses and corpsmen and doctors
now near, as they thought perhaps I’d lose the knee
as I drifted at last into sleep’s unseen night.

I awoke with both legs after that night of surgery.
Feeling both knees took most of the fear.
Tomorrow, another doctor’s skill will take the rest of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment