Patrick White

(September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)

I Look For A Star Through The Window


Day One

I look for a star through the window but there’s none out.
Bad day for me, and great, I went to the Perth
War Memorial Hospital because I was walking
like a drunk, though I don’t drink, I was forgetting
things and the names of people I shouldn’t have
forgotten. I was having a real difficult writing cursive script
or even for that matter spelling in large caps.
I had to cross my name out on a new book I autographed
and start again. I was inexplicably embarrassed.

I thought about the farm boys on that metal plaque,
the lives and women they might have had
before they went off to die, some expecting
they might, others surprised by the wreath
of autumn colours in the rain someone places there now,
soldiers who peopled the First and Second
and the Korean Wars with their corpses. I wonder
if the living see into their hearts now. I thought
I had a muscle strain from too many crunches.

I saw a pretty girl with sex, style, danger
mystery and holes in her jeans. She was reading
a popular novel. My mother always said
I should write a novel. I’ve written two
and put them in a drawer knowing I’d done
what my mother told me to. She ought to know.
She’s read enough of them. But her son went on
writing poetry. I might have approached the i
if I were waiting for someone. I’m a writer too
Love me if you can. I’m intense but I’m lonely.
And there’s no one here but you. And the doctors
who blew a large plug of wax out my right ear.

I still wobbled like a drunk. I laboured to go straight
in the emergency parking lot
where they let me smoke nine metres from
the entrance. Maybe that was my last chance
as I waited hours for an ambulance to take me
to Smith Falls for a cat scan. The one driver
young and the world ahead of him, the other,
older, in love. She’d pick him up at five.
He’d been hurt by love before but was hoping
maybe she’s the one, half daring to believe it.
I was afraid for his sadness, how fragile
he seemed though he’d been picking up bodies
for twenty three years. Close to retirement
but two kids in school he’d work on to support.

I pissed the iodine for contrast out into a plastic bottle
he gave me and told me to leave on the stair
of the ambulance. I got most of it in the container
despite suffering from vertigo as the ambulance
moved along back to the Perth Hospital where
I thought they’d tell me I was ok and send me home
with a prescription for the four weeks
of migraines cervogenetic like a pain your neck
but nobody on Google was sure of themselves
and the connection hadn’t been empirically made
though a lady at the check out counter at Giant Tiger
told me when she had migraines she lost her balance as
I was. Instead I had a tumour on my brain,
and the doctor, wanting to know where it came from
had an x-ray taken of my lungs, and there it was,
another tumour, and tomorrow, if I can arrange a ride,
thirteen miles, eighty bucks round cab fare,
another cat scan to see if I’ve got tumours
in my stomach, indigestibles that grew faster
than I could eat. I recalled Napoleon teaching
his army how to march quickly, divide and conquer.
Is it Elba or St. Helena? Can I ask to be palaced
like a quarantined emperor in England, or the Kaiser
chopping wood as if he were doing something
more useful than horned helmets and uniforms.

Is it a death sentence I asked the doctor as he said no
but it’s complicated in your case as if I wasn’t sure
I was about to leave someone. Later tonight
I widow-walked a sloppy orbit up
to the Shopper’s Drug Mart on the highway
to have a prescription filled immediately.
PMS-Dexamethasone, Tecta, Pantoprazole Magn.
Short for magnesium? I’ve taken my first two pills
on a full stomach and I can’t sleep. Like Baudelaire
who saw sleep all his life as a big black hole
he was terrified of, then died totally aphasic.
I saw a pretty girl. The kind I could perish for.
I looked for a star through the window but there was none out.

Submitted: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Edited: Friday, November 01, 2013

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  • Jono Casuyon (10/31/2013 12:48:00 PM)

    The trick at being read here in PoemHunter, is to write short and attractive poetry. But who cares? Like John Green had said, make gifts for people but your responsibility is not to the people but to the gift itself. And you had just given me a gift, Patrick White. One of the best approximately two minutes of my life. Coincidence that I'm rereading a book that features a girl with lung cancer, who was vaguely a doppelganger of this other girl who died because she had brain cancer. More power, your mother should be proud. (Report) Reply

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