06 March 2013

Brief Death

 Hubble Sees Red Giant Blow a Bubble
Camelopardalis by ESA/NASA


The bright steam-filled tunnel was as promised
with shadowy people I vaguely knew;
I entered floating, Grandpa's hand in mine

whispering 
It's okay, Mom, Grandpa's here.
to her form bent over my empty shell
shrouded in pearly sheets and still, breathless

but I could not stop her from fleeing, tears
streaking her face like my slimy up-chuck
hitting the shallow pan she held for me

I twisted sick, then fell back into sheets--
sans Grandpa, sans tunnel, sans soothing light--
abdominal cramps anchoring me there

pale egg in wet white bed, gravity held
me heavy and breathing, looking for Mom.






Based on a 12-year old's experience ... Posted on Poets United Poetry Pantry 141.


Copyright © 2013 S.L.Chast



19 comments:

Brian Miller said...

hmmm...back ground please...
were you sick? was this a view of the afterlife? alien abduction? its very interesting, but you have me intrigued now...

Susan said...

When I was 12, I had Hepatitis that the doctor didn't diagnose exactly until jaundice and loss of consciousness. A long and unpleasant illness, only the first 3 days in the hospital carried this terror--for my family. My memory is that the tunnel was a comfortable place from which to view the world.

Susan said...

Oh--and I didn't learn about the tunnel as a common image of NDE (Near-death experience) until sometime in my 20s--at which point the experience re-emerged as a memory. That's all I know. I haven't noticed any residual positives or negatives except always needing to submit to blood tests though all is clear.

aprille said...

Susan, this is scary.
I'm glad the experience it is based on is more than a decade behind you. You seem partial to the rhymeless sonnet these days. I almost wrote 'sugarless sonnet' :-)
Rhyme/sugar still feels like a bit of a forbidden fruit, and maybe I need stevia or aspartame to substitute.
I thought the NDE manifested itself as feeling oneself floating up above people, not quite balloonlike, and without visible support.

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Susan, thanks for sharing this. So hard to think of a 12-year-old you in that scary place. And yes, lots of folks have alternate experiences during illness, and they are all valid as far as I am concerned, no matter how science tries to explain it away. Besides, if science is "all that," why didn't they catch the Hep sooner, right?

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on Mother Jones. I can tell she is a hero of yours, too. Peace, Amy, and here's a rowdy fun one:
http://sharplittlepencil.com/2013/03/06/night-bus-nyc-3ww-real-toads/

Dr. Pearl Ketover Prilik (PKP) said...

The back story is fascinating - the poem read so differently to me - interesting isn't it... I thought it was of a child - not yet born... struggling to find its way into life - struggling to find its mother - wonderful evocative images :)

Panchali said...

"pale egg in wet white bed, gravity held
me heavy and breathing, looking for Mom."--- Goodness, that was scary indeed. Thankfully since the time has ended, you may dare to feel as you’ve done your best...
Lovely ...lovely indeed, Susan!

Kimolisa said...

Wow, an interesting poem, and to be so close to the end. Have to sit back on chew on this one for a while. Well written, well written

Claudia said...

oh heck..this really sounds dramatic...my first thought was fever fantasies when i read it.. but really sounds like you were walking on a thin line between life and death

Libby Meador said...

Your picture intrigues me and leads me to recall my NDE at 14 years. A wormhole perhaps, sucked through at the speed of white light or faster, urinating on myself falling into my body. It sounds like you vomited upon your return. Interesting.

Mary said...

Susan, I found this very interesting & vivid. Very cool that you experienced it and remembered it when you were 12-years-old before learning that this is something that commonly happens on the journey between life and death. I would think this would definitely impact your life forever, knowing that someday you will walk that tunnel fully again but people will be there to meet you. An inspiration for me today. Thank you.

Jack said...

Compared to the prevalence of "go towards the light" in fiction, you've really crafted an original, detailed, and emotional piece. A fine read, for sure.

Abin Chakraborty said...

deeply moving.one of those things which u feel without being able to explain.well crafted.

rch said...

Very surreal which gives the reader that feeling of being sick, nicely captured.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love that you saw the tunnel, and that grandpa was there. Comforting. I, too, was especially struck by the "pale egg in wet white bed". Good one, kiddo!

McGuffy Ann said...

It immediately reminded me of being 12 and having rheumatic fever. Well done!
Here is my offering: http://mcguffysreader.blogspot.com/2013/03/womens-day.html

SaraV said...

Susan, what an experience and what a perfect poem to go with it! I was also struck by that ending "pale egg in wet white bed" (excellent words and image) Glad that you are here to tell the tale. :-)

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

A very interesting story very well told. It evidently wasn't your time yet - much to your mother's relief, if not yours.

Kim Nelson said...

funny how we perceive these things... I did not find this the least bit scary. I found it natural and reassuring and exceedingly well told.