Progress and Practice (or, Fear, Faith, & Medicine)
I held very still in the palm of her hand, waiting;
I wanted to feel warmth, and give myself completely;
Alternately heard and then muffled, her, debating,
As her hand opened and closed, surrounding me softly…
He shook with tears, blew his nose, I waited, bottled, trapped,
He knew firsthand what doctors knew he’d feel, like dying,
Except, not reaching the end of dying, living, sapped,
Wondered if they’d like a taste of what he was trying…
The terror of being the lab rat, experiment,
So caringly sympathetic to my stress, illness-
To my face, a clinical, practiced sentiment. Then,
I’m observed distantly: measure blood, symptoms, careless…
Somehow this is supposed to cure, while making me ill;
These too expensive bottles, white-capped, an ocean’s wave,
Clean, belying coughing, vomit, blood, and worse, they spill.
Dispelling “bad symptoms,” but pushing me toward the grave…
When medicine was spiritual a shaman might
Try to drive the evil out with inhospitable
Circumstance, ending by ending the poor patient’s life.
The new “practice’s” toxic stew still may be fatal.
I wish you could understand, see that I’m not crazy;
Discover the root causes, extract only what’s bad,
Without, in treatment’s process, nearly murdering me ,
And adding symptoms that are far worse than what I had.
I waited, a poisoned bead, slow-built fatality,
Or, harsh key, ill-fit, but closest to miracle cure,
In the bottle, in the fist, trusting in chemistry.
Despite modern progress, still, much is faith, to be sure.
She told herself the little dots would make her better.
He told himself the side effects were worth the benefit.
She smiled, mouth dry, wishing that water could feel wetter.
He swallowed, knowing, thinking, “Here it comes. Wait for it.”
06/27/2017, Deon Mumple
I wrote this after hearing my mum talk about certain choice symptoms of some of the medicine dad was prescribed, that she had to clean after, and after watching “The Bucket List,” a charming movie with Jack Nicholson (The Joker) and Morgan Freeman (God) both dying of cancer. For the record, if the question ever came to your mind, I like good coffee, but I won’t drink Kopi Luwak or its cousin Black Ivory. Thanks for sharing, mum.