Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Morphine and Codeine

Painting by Dale Wicks

Morphine and Codeine

What was it you told me about your pain?
That you wanted me to take it, shake its hand
and walk it down to the hospital cafeteria
for lunch, while you watched television
for an hour or two, able to laugh cleanly?

That night I slept in the cot next to your bed
and the fire alarm went off for some reason
and you jumped to the floor, too surprised
to remember you didn't have the strength
to walk, why did you call me Jackson SunDown?

What vague shadow of my face fit his?
Did he speak the language? Did he fancydance
while all the Indian princesses too
his picture and kept the polaroids taped
to the walls of their rooms? After we buckled

you down, the nurses and I, you looked straight
at me, your eyes like x-rays. Did you see
the hairline fracture running along my jaw?
The fracture that happened the summer I called
myself Running Eagle, unaware of the contradiction,

and leapt from the roof of your house, my arms
flailing insanely as I landed on the woodpile.
Do you remember the ride in the ambulance,
the pain-killer they gave me? I want it to be
the same they give you now,
but I'm not sure it was. I'm not

sure of very much of that small part of my life,
the moment I remember now, barely, because
it was the first time I took any medicine other
than yours, the last time you wrapped me in old
blankets, much too big for anyone with the
smallest possible dreams

like myself, who dreamed you learned a new language
after they took your vocal cords, who dreamed
your hands tapped a strange code against my skin
so I knew what you were thinking, who dreamed
for years of cancer, that loup garou,
that house of fire and ash.

Sherman Alexie........from The Business of Fancydancing

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! There is a few typos, however:
laugh cleanly might be laugh clearly (but I am unsure)
too pictures is took pictures