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71| Hospital Visit

Wendy Bashant


We pay homage to her ancient marble,
her sculpted veins of slated blue,
her damp, cool skin, a Grecian statue
carved from limburger. She seems
something between a forgotten museum piece,
a holy shrine, and a cold lump of cheese.

                                       No longer mourn for me when I am dead
                                       Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
                                       Give warning to the world that I am fled
                                       From this vile world with vildest worms to dwell.

Her dark eyes glare at us or the machine
that beats. Her sacred trunk lies there,
barely breathing the warm, white air.
Feeding tubes marry orifices;
sparks prompt her heart;
saline drip waters her roots.

                                       When I (perhaps) compounded am with clay,
                                       Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
                                       But let your love even with my life decay.

Speaking in whispers, awed
by the hum of the hospital, we eye
each other guiltily: who next will lie,
like her, wrapped in the indecision
of anesthetics, morphine, and dulled pain?

                                       Nay, if you read this line, remember not
                                       The hand that writ it, for I love you so
                                       That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
                                       If thinking on me then should make you woe.

The cleanness of the room hurts my eyes
as hard light from the window calls her name.

Wendy Bashant was born in Seattle, attended Middlebury College, and received her Ph.D. in Victorian Literature at the University of Rochester. She has published poetry in various little magazines and scholarly articles in The Pre-Raphaelite Journal and En Travesti: Opera and Gender Subversions. She spent 15 years in Iowa, serving as chair of the English Department at Coe College, and 8 years in Florida at New College, the Honors College of Florida in Sarasota. Currently, she’s at University of California, San Diego serving as the Dean of Students at Thurgood Marshall College.

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