Paul Hartal

Phantom Pain - Poem by Paul Hartal

The landmine hidden under the ground
exploded with an ear-splitting noise.
There was a blinding flash, followed by
billowing smoke and dust.

The soldier felt excruciating pain
and lost his consciousness.

When he woke up he found himself
lying on a bed in a small hospital room
painted in yellow and blue.

He moved slowly his bandaged right hand
over his injured body
discovering to his horror
that the doctors amputated his left leg.

His recovery was slow and never complete.
He was a fighter though.
And as the years spooled by he tried
his best to adjust to his loss.

He nourished the whole of life
and still felt the presence
of his missing limb.

He often experienced a spirit pain
in his severed leg, a phantom sensation
that kept tormenting his absent body part.

Some say old soldiers never die,
they just fade away.
Nevertheless, one day he was buried
in a quiet corner of a military cemetary.

Yet the spirit of his severed leg
continued to visit him, haunting his grave.

It was a very loyal phantom pain.

Topic(s) of this poem: mystery, war

Form: Prose Poem

Poet's Notes about The Poem

The French barber surgeon Ambroise Pare described the phenomenon of phantom pain in 1551, whereas the American neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell coined the term “phantom limb” in 1871.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, November 19, 2015

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