when i am sick

when i am sick i become very clumsy.
when i am sick i wake at night, and the sheets
are heavy with perspiration and tangled.
when i am sick, my childhood reappears in grayscale,
the grainy footage of dreams like cinema newsreels.
when i am sick my ears slowly fill with wax
and my voice spreads paper-thin; communication suffers.
when i am sick, everyone wishes i were not.
when i am sick, i become one with mankind
or else something completely foreign to them,
filled with ephemery and the beauty of death.
when i am sick, my mind wanders.
when i am sick, i go to sleep with the sun
and rise before the dawn, stumbling,
compelled by simple objectives: to blow my nose,
to make tea, to pee, to check the thermostat.
when i am sick, hot water taps refuse to cooperate,
the mail never comes, and the nurse is always going away.
when i am sick, i see rings around streetlights
and around the headlights of approaching cars.
when i am sick and the night is kind,
i drive out to the grass at the end of the runways
and see the great planes accept their heaviness,
bending, as i watch, towards the pull of the earth
where families await their passengers, or most of them.
when i am sick, i can enjoy long stretches
of silence and stillness and mental inactivity.
when i am sick and you come to meet me
in that quiet house, from beyond the older seas:
do not come with too much light,
do not come with too much healing,
but bring a little wine (and bring a little oil)
and comfort me with the song of tomorrow.

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5 thoughts on “when i am sick

  1. Really liked this poem. The bit about the airplanes is really nice but I did not see how it connected to the rest unless you were getting up early to pick someone up at the airport. I likely need to give it another read.

    I agree the ending is very good. I want to hear that song of tomorrow.

    Hope you feel better soon, man.

  2. Thanks, all.

    Neil: there’s no reason why i like driving out to the airport. when i am sick, i am irrational. thanks for reading!

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