David Lewis Paget (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)
I’d only woken an hour before
And it seemed to cause a stir,
With people pouring into the room,
Coming from everywhere,
They looked excited, stared at me
And I stared right back, confused,
But nobody said a word to me
And I started feeling used.
‘What the hell…’ I began to say,
But a nurse told me to hush,
Stuck a thermometer into my mouth
Then tried to feed me mush,
She cleared the room and a doctor came
And read my chart with a frown,
‘Welcome back to the world, ’ he said,
‘It’s changed, since you were around.’
I couldn’t make head or tail of this,
I didn’t know where I was,
Loaded with tubes, I raised my arms
And flapped like an albatross,
‘Let me get out of here, ’ I said,
‘I need to get up and walk! ’
‘Your legs won’t carry you anywhere
Just yet, but we have to talk.’
He said I’d been out a long, long time,
It would take more time to adjust,
To start, he asked if I knew my name
So I told him, Benjamin Rust.
And then I remembered the bicycle
That I’d ridden down to the shop,
And the four wheel drive that had sped right by,
Too bad that it didn’t stop!
Then slowly figures came back to me,
A head full of raven hair,
Those pouting lips that had tempted me
And a dimple or two to spare,
She’d arched her brows in a quizzical way
When I’d shown her the double bed,
Then laughed, ‘You’re getting ahead of yourself,
I first need a ring, ’ she said.
We’d courted all through the summer months
And made love late in the fall,
I’d said, ‘I don’t want a part of you,
I’d be content with it all! ’
We wed in a little country church
Where the rain dripped down from the eaves,
And strolled from the vestry, hand in hand
As a breeze had fluttered the leaves.
My heart had leapt in that sterile room
As I caught the scent of her hair,
I said, ‘Is Jocelyn waiting here? ’
The doctor continued to stare.
‘You have to know that your world has changed
And the change may bring you tears,
You haven’t been out for a week or so,
But over a number of years.’
I was feeling the panic rise in me
As those dreaded words sank in,
‘Over a number of years, ’ he’d said,
As if I’d committed a sin!
And then, ‘How old do you think you are? ’
I replied, ‘I’m twenty-two! ’
He shook his head at the foot of the bed,
‘There’s a shock still coming to you.’
He wouldn’t say, and he went away
As I lay there, feeling grim,
So I asked the nurse, ‘How old am I? ’
But she said, ‘Just wait for him.’
At three in the afternoon I sensed
A shadow, stood at the door,
And there was a matronly woman there
Who must have been fifty-four.
She said, ‘I can’t believe you’re awake,
We’d long given up on you,
They asked me to come to the hospital,
And I needed to see, it’s true.’
Her hair was grey, but she had a way
That dredged a dream from the past,
She said, ‘Do you know me, Jocelyn?
It’s good to see you at last.’
The horror rose in my throat at that,
My heart hung still in my chest,
‘My God, you look like your mother now…’
‘I knew that you’d be distressed.
I got a divorce when you didn’t wake
After ten long years in this bed,
I feel so sad, but I wed again…’
Her words, like knives in my head.
I’d lain in a coma, thirty years
Why didn’t they let me die?
Jocelyn said she paid for me
In hopes, she didn’t say why.
This world is a terrifying place
When you lose the love of your life,
And wake to the loss of thirty years…
I’ll slit my veins with a knife!
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Comments about this poem (Coma! by David Lewis Paget )
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