One of the most difficult tasks I have as a hospital-based doctor is to assess an individual’s capacity to make decisions for themselves when they are suffering from dementia. When someone lacks this capacity it is sometimes necessary to place them in supported care (e.g. rest home or private hospital) against their will which can be harrowing for both ‘the patient’ and for me.
Photo by Diana Alsindy (Dianablography@wordpress.com)
White hair frames her face riddled with effort.
The blue sea of her hospital gown spattered with egg and oatmeal archipelagoes.
It’s 1964 (it’s not).
I’m her husband (I’m not)
come to take her home again (never again).
She’s lived in that house for more than a lifetime, she says. Planted all the roses.
Her mind is a boat listing badly—
I consign her to the sea.
As a physician, friend, and family member, I have witnessed many deaths. This poem is a contemplation of the many quiet, unseen ways those deaths have affected me.
I carry many deaths inside me though not as a cat is said to
or a saint bristling with arrows. Not as an oak
in winter flies its few brown flags of surrender.
Not the way the womb sheds its lush red lining. Not the way a virus storms
the cockpit of a cell but the way a man feeding pigeons in the park
watches each evening as they wander off when his hands are empty.
The accessible yet skillfully created poems of this collection will be enjoyed by newcomers to the riches of poetry as well as experienced readers. In this, his second collection, Art Nahill writes about fear, family, and redemption in language and imagery that speak plain truths. Each poem stands alone but like the starlings of his titular poem coalesce into a larger, surprising, and mesmerizing whole.
“Murmurations is a fine collection of poems. In their joys lurks sorrow, and in their sorrows, a wet-eyed smile… They throb with the music of human thought.”
Available in print and e-format from Amazon and in Auckland at Unity Books! You can also purchase a copy via the PayPal button on the sidebar to the right or leave a message request above and we can post a copy to you. Books are $20 plus shipping.