Amor Fati Overnight In Hospital
The wardsman shaving my pubic hair
is shyer than I am here.
We contrive to talk
from further selves for manhood's sake.
Amid sea-green professionals
I watch myself on screen.
The catheter probes my blood-vessels
like a mouse in a maze-experiment,
finds as they expect, no more.
The talon of arteries that holds my heart
erect to life has one weak claw.
I feel humiliation, not fear.
The plastic bottle they insist
I use to pee, I'll not use.
Courteous, desperate, I last
till two am, evade the night-nurse.
The triumph's paltry. Returning, I see,
huge on my inside thigh
my Viking blood has splayed and run
to a purple map of Europe beneath the skin.
My forbears went to the New World from that,
and sure, it's proper, says my heart
to face the thing and snuff it quick,
Grettir on Drangey, not liking the dark
but taking what comes and its loneliness,
strange elation at how exact is this.
But here are good professional staff
reading screens to make my future safe
who require no more than a stranglehold
upon the wild affections of my world.
For this is blockage, infirmity. This
is not me, but the mortal incubus,
the hobbler who
must walk beside me with his cue
of Now when it comes, it will hold no surprise,
a self watching my self with angel eyes.
—Alan Gould, from The Past Completes Me
Alan Gould is the Featured Poet in The Seventh Chimaera, due online in March 2010.