My favorite poem

I was introduced to this in Mrs Karp’s high school English class. The typewritten copy I made then has followed me around for over 30 years since then.


The trouble was they left her too much alone,

feeding on books and dreaming of love

and watch willow tree shadows

sway across the polluted river.


Instead of running about and laughing

and talking of nothing with the other girls,

she grew wistful and wan and dangerously thin

and after hours of pondering such things as

frost on a window

or the frail filament fingers of an old nun on a bus,

she would look weaker than ever

and complain of a terrible pain in her chest.


Until late one night they rushed her to the hospital

and worked over her for hours in Emergency,

removing a huge tumorous verse

so horrible that even the nurses grew sick when they saw it.

For days afterwards

she was draining words where the stitches were

and then only a few letters now and then

until the wound was completely healed.


But there’s still a large scar where they made the incision

and even now when she sees things

like a bird on a twig

or the shadows of leaves on the sand

or a butterfly wing washed up on the shore,

the scar turns pink or a livid red

and you almost wonder

if they succeeded in getting out all the infection.


John W. Dickson



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