Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Epiglottitis

who swallowed a cherry, my
pretty, who swallowed a cherry?

all night
they watched her
while her throat narrowed
to the size of a bullet.

the tongue of the clock
was pulled out by time.
the hands slid to the ground
and lay there, exhausted.

the silken arytenoids
in the forbidden castle
were drawn closed,
a curtain.

in the dimmed drawn breath
of the hospital room,
the flower children watched
their garlands wither.

four men came to see
the golden-haired princess.
they knelt down on top of her
and fed her life through a tiny tube.

they plucked her cherry
out by the pip
and pipped death
at the post,

they gave her the kiss of life,
and the princess awoke.

In one of the stranger reversals of my writing career so far, the above poem was recently published as a case report in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, complete with a picture and commentary by a distinguished infectious diseases expert. I wrote the poem a few years ago after seeing a real case.

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