Curse of the Hyacinth, Language of Hospital, Language of Pain, and Something To Do With Loneliness – Poetry

By Roxanna Bennett

Writer’s Statement: These four poems are part of a larger collection of work that examines my lived experience with physical and mental disability.

Curse of the Hyacinth

I I ossify I don’t walk (always) I don’t I don’t
race run or swim I don’t I don’t I don’t
pace sprint or climb I don’t I don’t

I don’t don’t I don’t don’t dance
I don’t dance
I don’t dance

I miss dancing I miss I miss movement miss
watching your circle miss I miss believing
I could belong

Could I belong?
I don’t belong among the diseased or the cured
How is the hyacinth’s bent head wrong?

I don’t walk don’t don’t walk (always)
crawl among the hyacinths
I keep one in a square glass jar

it slowly closes not belonging
here outside its circle unable to dance
to dance as you are are able

I I here
among hyacinths
I ossify

You believe belonging to the circle is cure
You belong to the circle of believing
as though not belonging is disease

as though not wanting to belong
is disease as though not being cured is diseased
as though being diseased is diseased

as though being diseased is a reason
to behave as animals
do not believe in belief

You behave as though believing is a reason
to keep close the unbelonged as though
reason is a reason to keep not

wanting to open the circle
You in your close circle
You You You ossify


Language of Hospital

Stories like cathedrals I cradle,
I carry my religion in ribcage
from waiting room to waiting
room being here at all a radical
act. Rate symptoms of violet
from one to ten. Name victims
of violence from birth to death.
Think kingdoms want women
think again. Nurses needle, nag
with stifling kindness. Incurious
surgeons treat patients like plague
as though stories are contagious.
My father spoke the language of stone,
swan, sycamore stuck in the throat.


Language of Pain

Once every 45 seconds & inaccessible
to intervention the gnawing cramp wrenches
attention from birdsong to black cradle,
lacerates language. Exhaustion punishes
the nerve of plans, slices singular from
spectacle, insists: voice is not larynx
sight is not eye taste is not tongue touch
is not hand sound is not ear feel is not skin
scent is not nose mind is not brain—
Insists on radiating red red unreason
unspeak unknow unperson unname
ungod ungod please please what reason
for bearing unbearable burden of
being, what reason for being unloved.


Something To Do With Loneliness

After Vivienne Finch

Earth a relic of actuality recedes
I alone inhabit this languageless
country under the Serpentine
I exist through simultaneous myths
harvested from darkclose mouths
of spinestiff hyacinths the augury
of bloodflowers fails throats
of tulips severed accidentally
spill open like an offering
This pain like a person broken
open like an offering belonging
to pain mutates a person
beyond colour the marrow of distance
collapses when not met with resistance

Roxanna Bennett is the author of The Uncertainty Principle (Tightrope Books, 2014). Her work has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, Existere, Arc, Vallum, CV2, Cosmonauts Avenue, Qwerty, carte blanche, and many other publications. She lives in Ontario, Canada. You can find more on Roxanna at her website.


samidan19 View All →

Sami Holden earned an MFA in Screenwriting from UC-Riverside at Palm Desert and is the founder of The Tiny Tim Literary Review. Previously she was a dating advice columnist for The Good Men Project’s column – Dating in the Digital Age with Sami Holden as well as the press and social media editor for The Coachella Review. She wrote a blog for a number of years called Chronicles of Cheerful Clotter for HemAware Magazine, where she detailed her life with chronic health conditions. Sami is also an associate producer and press manager for the documentary Invisible: The Film, which focuses on individuals living with chronic pain and invisible illness. She has served on the Board of Directors for the National Hemophilia Foundation, spent time as a Senatorial intern, and was Miss Wisconsin for the ANTSO program. In addition, she has had articles published in Chronicality, Elephant Journal, The Glow (Australia), I.G. Living Magazine, The Manifest-Station, The Mighty, National Pain Report, Ravishly, and YourTango. Her interests include ukuleles and sloths. Find her @SamiDan19.

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