Photo by FCorbin
Below is a recently published poem by Matthew Johnson, better known as “The Pedestrian”. Matthew wrote a piece for my book “Always & Forever, Love” Subtitled: Success Stories of Marriages 20+ Years Strong titled: “Picture taking”, it’s one of my favorite pieces.
You distinctly recall leaving your feet
firmly planted in your shoes, there
just shy of the curtain scrolled around the bed,
let’s just say, for the sake of privacy.
You remember the lips, the tongue, moving;
the word uttered, then split in two: “good+bye”,
a polite form of death administered intravenously.
Eurydice, counting backwards, murmurs
a scrabble of Latin roots, prefixes;
bi-, psych-, the-, tox-, phil-, dox-
and other “-ologies” draw
your breath down to the depths of Hades.
A muffled announcement piped over the air:
–“… patient now embalmed
beyond the reach of pain,”–
leaves Orpheus astonished, bereft.
But here, between two blinks of the eye:
one, going under anesthesia,
one coming out of, you are greeted
by recovery-room nurses
wearing smile-encrusted faces
often worn by the deaf and the blind:
Reassuring, the surgeon describes
obscure malignancies excised ever so delicately,
laser sharp, bloodless, cauterized,
all, let’s say, in just under an hour.
Clutching your plastic bag
of “PATIENT BELONGINGS,”
You regain your footing at the revolving doors,
let three reflections of yourself pass,
before braving the cylinder;
a soughing where rubber meets glass engulfs you entirely;
phantom euphoria masks emerging vertigo,
but pre-op instructions, rehearsed, harness
“any misgivings you may now experience.”
Out into glaring sunshine, a feverish elixir
coursing your veins, attests Apollo’s reign
over healing and disease.
In the wake of your passage, the door turns on its axis:
you are crazed by your newfound powers!
Your spouse, helmet be’plumed, commands reins and whip;
you do not resist the beating of wings
bearing you up;
from subterranean levels of the parking deck,
the ramp guides your chariot heavenward….
In your throbbing temples, hooves churn mid-air.
Not having read the fine print of your policy,
that sheaf of release forms you signed,
it will be days before your realize,
the one who walked in,
(“ambulatory,” it says in your chart)
you are merely the cadaver of,
–now, alas, neither god nor man.
Better your courage had survived, intact,
than this: another walking dead,
among the heartless living.
Matthew Johnson, September 30, 2013