The doctor used his handkerchief and sighed.
—Wallace Stevens

Bring me the hernia of dig and crop,
the blister of dubious saint.
Bring me the bloody butcher’s smock
to bandage all complaint.

This is where we’ll search for meaning—
where upright things are warped or leaning,
where men wear-out their sliced ham cloaks,
where the leaf of the lily of the valley
is trembling in the lap of the oaks.

Let the sad white bells ring-out through the vale
like light through a curtain leaking.
Let the pus collect in an old tin pail.
My mother’s legs are weeping.

Bring me the sails of her ship of death,
bring me her stink-stained sheeting.
Let the torrent thunder in gardens of gauze.
Let the poison ooze from the hinges of doors.
Bring glare for the blind! Bring din for the deaf!
Bring all that’s no more! Lose all that is left!
My mother’s legs are weeping.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 32 Number 7, on page 27
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