One of the blogs I follow is KK’s Yard Sale of Thoughts, and the other day she posted a response to a prompt. I didn’t take part in the prompt, it seemed to be a “serious poet’s” prompt and that’s about the last way I would describe myself, but it was a thoughtful concept.
They started with an established, published poem. I’m not sure if it specifically had to be a poem, but that’s what KK chose. And just to use that as the inspiration for something of their own. Again, not sure if the output was specified, but she wrote a poem. The poem she chose as her inspiration was written by Walt Whitman.
I’m not very good on literature. I have maybe had a stable of authors like Orwell or Dumas or Dostoyevsky, and I’ve read pretty much everything they wrote. But there are also many authors I don’t know, but feel they might have been rewarding. Whitman falls into that category. KK provided a link to the poem so I took the opportunity. I’ll put the link at the base of my post – it’s a lovely poem but beware, it is a fifteen-minute read.
It’s basically praising the human body. I’m sure I caught “sacred” in there, think I caught “reverence”, so you get the picture. It is certainly reverential.
But I don’t agree. Just for the hell of it, I came up with a response of my own.
Their crumpled bodies, once so strong,
Now shrivelled up in fear,
I pass among their shellshocked souls,
And grieve with hidden tears.
My eyes look on a lady,
At one time, better bred,
Reliant on her husband,
She cannot leave her bed.
“She does herself no favours”,
Says doctor with blank stare,
In hospital, discharged herself,
The clatter could not bear.
He walks with drunken stagger,
His neighbours point and gawk,
But little do they know the man
Has not long learned to walk.
No answer from the old man,
His silence is devout,
But clearly he is lucid,
His words just won’t spill out.
We hail our modern treatments,
Survival rates the drive,
We miracles of science,
Still breathing, yet deprived.
We blindly fund our research,
I pain to reconcile,
Just how much function must we lose,
Before life’s not worthwhile?
This is just my experience, visiting stroke survivors on the hospital ward. All of these people I met; one of them is me. It’s one of the things that bugs me, that a doctor will see a heap-of-jelly stroke survivor, possibly unable to look after themselves, possibly unable to speak, and hail it as a success. I become incredibly sad that once-proud, strong, athletic people are left with bodies that fail them, kept breathing by medication.
I’m very clear that by the time all this happens, we have discovered our finity, so to try to turn that into something infinite, I think, is just cruel.