Spoonful: A Gathering of Stone Soup Poets

An extension of Cambridge's Stone Soup Poetry Venue.

Poem by Linda Larson

"Disenfranchised" by Cindy Williams

Under the Blanket

I lost my appetite.
High as a kite…
A side effect of not eating.
Thoughts coming and going
Like birds at dusk
Or dawn.
Electrons really.

There is no
Mercy of the bored,
Upon whom I depend
At Pinehaven,
The nursing home I inhabit
In direct contradiction to my
Over-my-dead-body instructions.

And then I see that
Daughter of mine
Leaning over my bed,
Her face in my face,
God love her.
Do you know where you are?
I notice I am not at Pinehaven,
I am in a hospital.

They want to try a feeding tube.
We should try it, don’t you think?
Isn’t that what we’ve always
Been about? Trying our best?

They never gave me food
Again at Pinehaven
Instead they gave the order
Nothing by mouth.
They fed the hole in my stomach.

Muscles atrophy from not chewing;
Muscles atrophy from not speaking.

I ripped out the feeding tube.

My Judas daughter
With the big job, flew in
From Gay Paree…
To sign the consent forms
To reinsert the feeding tube.

Once again she quailed
In the face of the white-coated
Sales women of longevity.
Miss High Muckety Muck
Who cost me and her father
A fortune to educate went limp
Before their guilt-soaked incantations.

They undo the drip from
The back of my hand.
The tube is in place.

My daughter wants to know.
What are those for?
“These are two-point restraints
To be certain she won’t pull out
The feeding tube again.”

It’s lunchtime.
They don’t bring me a tray.
The nurse pulls back the blanket.
My child watches,
The nurse pours,
My intestines rebel,
The fluids overspill,
Hit my lungs,
I aspirate this
Liquidated food,
The vomit is
Wiped away,
I am
Choking on my vomit…
My girl
Sees them call the code,
Sees them rush into the room,
Sees them resuscitate me,
Sees how when I am revived
I try to bite the staff that has
Brought me back to life.
That was lunch?

So this child of mine
Takes off, without a word
Reappears with a plastic
Hospital-issue pitcher of ice
Unbuckles the leather
Restraints on my wrists,
Already starting to chafe
The skin raw where the
Drip had been…
Pulls back the vomit-stained blanket
Tears the already ragged skin
As little as possible,
Her major was Art Restoration,
Worries free the feeding tube,
Tucks me in again,
And with crushed ice starts mopping
My firecracker-hot face to some tune…
I cannot remember the words.