Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year

12:00 midnight sharp,
and one year on the cusp
of another; the perns and gyres
(never really understood)
in perfect balance
for one second,
or something like that.

war is here;
war is there;
war is everywhere
it seems:

insipid and facile
as a nursery

like janus,
we can look forward and back
at once and see
atrocity. nobody learns
from history.

12:01: the new year
has begun.

G-d give us strength;
G-d give us health;
G- d give us the one
who will bring
peace to everyone.

G-d give us Zach,
the scion
of Akivah
and Yisrael.



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back to the Psychedelic 60's with the Help of My "Friend," (Morphine)

1.The day after hip-replacement surgery a young man with a kippot (yarmulke) on his head enters my room. In his hands he carries a load of hardware, which he assembles above my supine body. I wonder why a person in a kippot, for heaven's sake, would be insisting that I learn to hoist myself up using what surely is some useless gear that has been smuggled in from the Al Qaeda training camps. I give the young man, who turns out to be an interning physical therapist, the most sour look I can possibly manage, considering I am quite high on morphine and sink back into that most marvelous of all marvelous escapes, the fetal position. I tell him to take his stuff and go back to the Taliban and BE a traitor to our nation, if that is what he wants because I simply WILL NOT do that silly and disloyal jungle gym stuff that we see on TV all the time. The man looks very disappointed and discouraged and leaves me in the care of my poor suffering family.

2.Before I know it, (such is the confusion of time), I am at the Billy-Bob's big old mansion on Surf Avenue in Sea Gate, Brooklyn. From my (non-existent) hospital room window I can see that there is a posh tea party to raise money for Nefesh Academy in progress in the spacious garden downstairs. I tell a very sympathetic nurse that I have not been invited because I was such a poor student at Barnard. Then I think I see four nurse's aides screaming and yelling at me to shut up and stop being such a baby. I dissolve into the fetal position again, leaving my poor sister sitting quite alertly in a chair, wondering what will happen next.

3.Nobody has to wait long to find out. Soon I have become a character in a Chagall painting, floating my way above, around and through the shetetl known as Brooklyn: I am searching for a place to spend the night. Flatbush will not do: after all, whom do I know there who would put me up
for the night? or even for one minute? So I fly to Sea Gate, where all the houses seem very red. I tell Jeff, who is ACTUALLY sitting right near me with poor Sheryl, to take me back to my old house on Oceanic: surely someone there will let me stay, if only the ghost of my unfortunate dead mother. Jeff says, "Ok, let's go," and gets up to begin the journey home. (After all, home is where they have to take you in when there is nowhere else to go, isn't it?) Sheryl tugs at Jeff and tells him it is too cold to go outside. I am very disappointed but decide to ask the Rebbitzen Rivkeh, who is also ACTUALLY in the hospital, if I can stay with her. (The Rabbi seems to be conducting a class behind a striped drape, which turns out to be the hospital room separator.) Jeff asks Rivkeh if I may stay with her, and she says that I could. Then I ask again and again - and again, and each time the answer is yes. Suddenly this does not seem like a good idea, so I send Jeff behind the striped curtain to ask the people there if I may stay right where I am. It seems that there is a teenage girl there who takes time out from the Rabbi's class to say it is ok if I stay. Unfortunately Jeff has to pretend that he is asking her over and over and over again, such is the virulence of my OCD, which really does not need much impetus from morphine.

4.Towards what seems like nightfall I realize that I need sleeping medication very, very badly. So I go to Lyme Avenue, still in flight thanks to Chagall, and ask the Rabbi, who has somehow magically evanesced from the hospital, if he knows anyone who has a tranquilizer. He says there is a lady on Cypress Avenue who is a very good naturalist, and will make some safe medicine for me. So I fly over to Cypress and find the woman, who seems vaguely familiar. She says she is all out of tranqs, but will make some since I seem to be having difficulty of one sort or another. She comes back from her garden and tells me all her herbs are gone too, but to keep me from going (from GOING?) completely mad, she will catch some bugs, crush them up and magically turn them into Atavan! YAY, ATAVAN! At that very moment, the nurse must be stuffing Atavan, or lorazapan, as the pros who all love generic names call it, into my big mouth that is perpetually open and spouting pure nonsense. The bugs seem a little chewy, I think to myself, but, thank goodness, they work. Much to the relief of everyone, I am soon asleep.

5.But not for long. I soon wake up and imagine that one of the nurses is Sherri Shepherd, accompanied by an illicit lover AND her son Jeffrey. I call my own Jeffrey on the phone and tell him to call the ENQUIRER with the scoop that Sherri Sherpherd, who appears on THE VIEW at eleven A.M., works as a nurse at Lutheran Hospital before showtime. "We will be rich!" I tell him. He promises to call asap.

6.Every now and then a group of nurses go on their breaks to a nearby swimming pool. They are dressed in swimsuits and carry very large, very clean white towels. I wonder what laundromat could possibly provide such immaculate towels?

7.Then one day a miracle happens. I momentarily step out of the Chagall painting and hear my sister plead with the nurse to tell her what has happened to me. The nurse is very flippant and replies that my behavior is the typical reaction to morphine and that I would be myself again once the drug was out of my body.

MORPHINE! A synonym for heroin! Another word for opium! The drug they give people on theiir death beds, (which, in fact, is the only place it SHOULD be administered.) And I have not even mentioned the reactions of the other patients in the orthopedic post-op ward who awaken while still under the influence of that substance that comes from the poppy, that most lovely of lovely flowers with its pistils filled with hallucinogenic poison.

And then one day I am moved to another unit. While I am sure it will be the Psychiatric Ward, it is actually a nursing/rehabilitation facility, where I will (hopefully) learn to walk and to become a human being again. One poor man in that unit, dubbed "the Sheriff" by the rehab personnel, sits by the window in the hallway all day and then re-enters reality for moments at a time to yell at the gurney driver for coming too close to the wheel chair attendant and serves as constant reminder that I am in fact I (ME?) and NOT someone who thinks she is a sheriff. But at least he is happy, and his days are productively filled, whereas my main preoccupation is how to use the toilet in my room into which paper is forbidden due to frequent overflows. (I will not tell you how I finally manage to solve this dilemma.)

And at the end of this year, 2009, I must now give thanks to the L-rd G-d who has TWICE returned to me the ability to walk. When I asked the orthopedic surgeon what would happen if he just patched up the femur bone and forgot about the hip replacement, better known in medical parlance as "the prosthetic," he said, "Then you will remain a miserable cripple in bed like this for the rest of your life."

So ... his will - and His will - be done. And somewhere, somehow, mine too.

P.S. Marlene said that all canes must have names that suit their identities. Her mother's is called "sugar cane," whereas my device was dubbed "harmonicane," due to the silly little holes down the side. Right now I do not know where I have left h'ocane. Perhaps some hapless (or perhaps very happy) person is using it to belt out AULD LANG SYNE.

Qui sait?

The end. And happy new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Solstice

I hide
I reside
I abide
in darkness.


a minute or two
of light

the sun, some say,
will be gone
one day.

for now,
its rays

from me.