49: coma in cantos, canto 8

canto 8

my father rolled stories
of coma patients
so that I dreamed
of dreaming
in deep sleep,
dreamed of whales
in their purple
or blue or deep green
deeps, singing,
approaching continents
with the thin long fins
stroking ocean pressures
like massive, slowmoving birds.

Martha, he said,
schooled in England,
rearing children in Oklahoma,
imagine that, he said,
would bring me cookies
at the office
and I treated her
for migraine before,
suddenly, she decended.
Her husband woke
and waited but the difference
between coma and sleep
is simple, he said,
one does not wake,
it’s too deep a sleep,
depending, of course, he said,
of the degree of depth,
which we might judge
using GCS, the Glasgow
scale, assessing the mysteries
of the nervous system, and so
imagine looking up with the eyes
of a whale,
imagine the light of the sun
above the ocean,
imagine the glow
and the graygreen grain of it,
and imagine unable to break
into full, warm sunlight,
though you might try.

Martha made no utterance.
Martha’s eyes were like ice.
Martha’s pain response bespoke
something bad to the brain stem,
which you should see as a bruised
cellery stick, but in her lips
a luminosity evoked an image
of pleasant sounds, notes
I and her husband and the nurses
could hear, though, for Martha,
we could only say
before her husband after time
assumed the paralytic posture
of widower
they must of sounded
like that hour after a concert
when the crowd has gone
and the musicians
have vacated the house
and the stage
is quiet
as the bottom of the sea.

and so, as a child,
my fascination grew
my fascination not for sleep
or dreams
or monsters under the bed
but with losing
the abruptness of morning,
with that moment when, after dream,
the real world appears again, like magic.

One Trackback

  1. By 050/100 aka 190/365 | Talespinning on July 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    […] their booming voices through the walls. That’s what usually woke him up and if he cried out, the dreams he’d dragged into awakening would stop making noise and go […]

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