patricia Kirkpatrick


There isn’t much to say about the door really.
Trees lean. Leaves fall.
Grass is still green in late November.
A field stone wall,
higher than a man or woman’s shoulder,
straddles the hill that rises to the cathedral.
Sometimes there’s sun.
Sometimes shadows.
Sometimes just grey out the hospital window.
People lie in these beds and suffer and suffer
sometimes for what looks like
no purpose. At least to me.
I am getting better. Still I think of the poet Keats
dying alone in Rome, saying to Dr. Severn at the end,
“Don’t be frightened--be firm, and thank God it has come!”
I hear nurses in the hall phone their children,
tell them to return library books,
what kind of soup they are making for dinner.
Tell another nurse to give morphine to room 411.
There isn’t a door in the wall really.
The stones just stop going across
and turn inward.
Suddenly there’s a slender darkness
going inside you can enter.
It reminds me of the darkness between two lines
on language tests I’ve been taking, a code that means “house”
if I can remember to say it. House.
I keep failing the tests but writing poems anyway.
There isn’t much to say about the door.
The wall stops and the stones
turn inward.
I have no idea what you find when you enter that door.
No idea what you find when you enter that darkness.
No idea at all.

for Carol Bly (1930-2007)               for Cary Eustis