16 February 2010

the tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.   
i am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
as the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.   
i am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.   
i have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses   
and my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.

they have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff   
like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
the nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
they pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,   
so it is impossible to tell how many there are.

my body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
they bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.   
now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage——
my patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,   
my husband and child smiling out of the family photo;   
their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat   
stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.   
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley   
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books   
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.   
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

//excerpt from 'tulips' by sylvia plath