Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How it Began

This poem describes Frieda Hughes struggle with ME. She is the daughter of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. I am sorry that Frieda is ill, but I'm sure no one else could have written a poem as eloquent as this. I find it profoundly moving, and send my best wishes for a good recovery.

There was first the small sound
Of a metal wire snapping
Like a violin string inside my head
On a long drive South in Australia,
Me, a passenger.
The sharp, plaintive note
Snagged my attention,
It was followed by a sense of foreboding
That something was wrong.
When we stopped I found
That during our journey my feet
Had become welded to the floor of the car.
I tried to lift my legs at the knees
But the joints where my arms
Were hooked onto my shoulders
Had lost their point. My man
Stared in disbelief
At my immobility,
With growing fury he
Manoeuvred my limbs from the vehicle
And made me stand.
If I had to die in order to lie down
Right there on the pavement
I would have keeled over,
Soulless, immediately.
Weeks later when
This flu refused to cure
The blood tests began,
Followed by a CAT scan
And psychiatric examination
To rule out depression.
They found me sane as anyone could be
Afflicted by M.E.
I could not read or concentrate,
Or walk more than a few
Dead-legged paces, or talk;
I found it hard with wooden tongue
To fix the words in place.
Inertia flooded my veins,
Set like concrete,
And immobilised my working brain,
It would be almost four years
Before I read a book again.
Now, a single question
About sugar, or not, in tea
Could render me senseless,
And sleep was not sleep
Of rest and waking, but a mud
Of the mind's making to wade through
So that strength and cognitive ability
Were all used up
By the time my eyes opened.
The actions of a day
Were suspended for as long as string,
Despite my fury, and all my efforts to resist,
My life as I had known it

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