Priya Sarukkai Chabria,

Rookie (Chennai, India)

Hospital-2 - Poem by Priya Sarukkai Chabria,

In the hospital I remove my eyes
and slip each one, wrapped in jelly,
under my armpits to miss
the mattress dark with blood,
the kidney tray with clotted strawberries,
and that yellowish streak
on the ward-boy's latex hands.

I zip my ears
and stuff them into my empty eye sockets
to stop the wails behind the door
- and that snatch: the blood clot
is in his brain but he's still talking;
to avoid the whispering of white-stockinged feet
of the nurses as they scurry on midnight emergencies.

I plug
my nose into my navel.
No smell of puss, piss, shit;
nor the tang of sudden shots,
as needles rise into blood and breath,
nor the stench of tired relatives.

I peel my skin,
roll it into a pellet and tuck it beneath my tongue.
For I must warm her body's rigors without sweating
beneath three blankets in Madras heat.
Nor flinch when a stranger's spittle spots my face;
and hold some patient's trailing hand
as she's rushed into the theater, eyeballs rolling.

In the hospital my tongue thins
and rises red
to sing praises.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, January 7, 2006

Poem Edited: Saturday, June 19, 2010


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