I’d wanted to bring back something from that darkness:
A spool, a few star flecks, a water lily. . .
But when I woke, I could remember only
The nurses’ hands that held mine as I counted
Upwards and never reached ten, the doctor’s face
Blurring into the ceiling as he disappeared.
Wheeled back to my room, I spent an hour watching
It rain into Bridgeport, how the rainfall kept
The streets, the porches of the tenements
Below my window deserted. I remember
A broken boxkite dangling from a string
Caught on a power line . . . the O’s of abandoned tires.
There had to be something. I closed my eyes and searched
Back into the darkness, as one does
When woken from dead sleep, looking for a cause
Of sweat on the temple, hands held stiffy outright,
Ready for a re-encounter on whatever road
Went curving through the sycamores at midnight.
Yet, nothing. Under my left leg’s bandages, the blood
Clotted, staining brown. The rental TV
Above my head, locked in its swivel assembly,
Offered the world through a simple set of knobs
I’d twist when I was ready. Now I was tired
And wanted none of it. My left leg throbbed,
My roommate lay drugged. Against the small window
Steadily rattling in its thin aluminum frame,
Cellophane raingusts came and went and came,
Blurring and clearing and blurring the draggled city
Where Barnum once put elephants on show:
“If it doesn’t play in Bridgeport, it won’t play.”
Then, one-by-one, my visitors pushed through the door:
Family, friends. In the softened crevices
Of their rainclothes, in their folded umbrellas
And finger-combed hair, scores of raindrops sparkled,
Catching florescent light. What more, what more
Had I ever wanted, should I have expected?
When they’d left, nurses’ hands shooing them out,
A residue of books and rainy flowers
Lay scattered around my room. A bunch of doctors
From India came to inspect me—in their singing English
Pronouncing me salvaged, almost beyond doubt;
Smiled and nodded, and very shortly vanished.
My roommate gone, wheeled to his own operation,
I lay in the room alone. The rainfall slackened;
Houselights, streetlights, carlights—all that happened
To the world outside me patterning the glass
As Bridgeport fell away. I turned the television on.
I let the swarthy heroes have the darkness.
© Dick Allen