Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Sue Wootton’s ‘Rx’

 

Rx  

I am ill because of wounds to the soul. D. H. Lawrence

 

Iceberg, Peace, American Beauty: the blooms

smack the window in the summer storm, hammered,

blotted, falling early in this discontent. Now

 

is become the only season. Patients all, we ail.

Our wounds are deep, our fractures dirty, complex,

irreducible. Compound upon compound. O rose,

 

we are sick! Thinner and thinner our skins

in these plague years. The lesions fester and we scratch.

Small words buzz and swarm, stripping the tongue

 

of buds. Our mouths are full of boils. An excess of bile

mocks the liver. This contagion of crimson rage,

these wails building. Eros, thou art sore.

 

Our memories fail, fatally. Too much for

get. Thus, prescribe ourselves a salve

for give. Mix in the blue bowl all our howls

 

and mutters. Add the lullabies, waiata, sagas,

ballads, odes. Copy and collate

the scrolls; trace the stories written slow

 

by candlelight and goose quill on illuminated manuscripts.

Resurrect the many, many ways

of saying sister, brother. Compose

 

our selves. Patience, all. Make open refuge

for the human heart and place the books within.

Read, and repeat. Read, and repeat. Let settle.

 

©Sue Wootton

 

Note: The medical shorthand for ‘treatment’ is Rx, which derives from the Latin imperative recipe (‘take’). ‘Rx’ was commended in the 2018 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine (judged by Mark Doty).

Sue is a a PhD candidate in creative practice at the University of Otago, researching how literature articulates what it means to be able or disabled, ill or well. Her most recent publications are her debut novel, Strip (Mākaro Press), longlisted in the 2017 Ockham NZ Book Awards, and the poetry collection, The Yield (Otago University Press), a finalist in the 2018 Ockham NZ Book Awards. Her poem ‘The Swim’ has recently been longlisted in the 2018 University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Poetry Prize.

 

 

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