Poetry Shelf – Spring Season’s poetry fans: Lynn Freeman picks Johanna Emeney

Shaken Down

 

In the hospital corridor,

the one two of my shoes

on hard lino,

then something

sounds broken—

 

a thermometer—

 

I have left people here

in rooms

and cabinets.

They’ve gone cold

in others’ hands.

 

The spine of me

spills

into so many

ball bearings…

 

Orderlies wheel

prone passengers.

Nurses pass

with busy eyes,

 

until one pauses

to put on gloves,

coveralls, booties.

She sticks up a sign

 

[DANGER HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE]

 

and calls

for a flashlight,

holds it at an angle

to find beads of me-

rcury lodged in cracks

between wall and floor.

 

Without a fuss

she gathers masking tape,

an eyedropper,

index cards,

and uses them to

corral what is herdable

into new glass tubing.

Her cards say:

MY MOTHER DIED

WHEN I WAS YOUNG TOO, LOVE

 

What miracle

to approach

naked breakage,

to chase it unafraid,

gather it up

and talk it back down

to something

resembling normal.

 

©Johanna Emeney,  Family History, Mākaro Press, 2017

 

 

 

Note from Lynn:

The spine of me

spills

into so many

ball bearings…

This image has stayed with me since I first read Shaken Down. Even before reading the footnotes, I felt this poem must have come from Johanna’s own experience, directly from her heart. Like most people, hospitals for me are places of memory, loss, fear and guilt. This poem, in a few lines, reminds us of how alien hospitals can feel, despite the kindness of the people doing the best to save the people we love.

 

Lynn Freeman is Presenter of RNZ National’s arts/culture programme Standing Room Only. She is a former NZ Book Awards judge and an avid reader.

 

Johanna Emeney lives in Auckland where she tutors at Massey University and co-facilitates the Michael King Young Writers Programme. She has been placed third and been commended in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine and shortlisted for the International Montreal Poetry Prize. Her debut collection was entitled, Apple & Tree (2011).

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s