Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Letting Go


Bedruthan sunset by Ennor

Like a fish
out of water,
you lie there,
delicately gasping,
mouth shaping
to catch
elusive breaths,
and once caught,
as if some knowing
afterthought,
you let them go.

Sing me your death song.

Little lady                
you have left me now.
Mortal coil surrendered,
demons vanquished,
soul ascended,
serene and silent,
life complete.

Anna :o]

Although a ‘little lady’ is mentioned I wrote this several months ago when I thought of Joe.    Joe was a resident in a home where I worked in the nineties. 

Joe was in his eightieth year and had been transferred to the home when mental health services became ‘Care in the Community’ resulting in the closure of the psychiatric hospital where he had spent over fifty years of his life.

Joe had schizophrenia and his was an ‘expected’ death as he too suffered from a terminal physical illness.   Joe was aware he was dying; his voices (auditory hallucinations) knew too and continued to taunt him mercilessly during the last hours of his life. 

If there is a God out there he cruelly played with Joe to the bitter end…

I have never forgotten Joe.

Linked to the good folk at dVerse~Poets Pub (thanks tashtoo) and The Poetry Pantry (thanks Mary) at Poets United.

Image: Courtesy of Ennor at Flickr.  Thanks Ennor

30 comments:

Dr Henry Tegner said...

One of the great privileges afforded to people who work in the health professions is that we meet people who move us or provoke a burst of creativity in us, as this man certainly did in you. Some of my most tender memories centre around the most wretched of people, real outcasts. Yet our fingers touched metaphorically, and something passed one to the other.
Thank you. This is a moving reminder.

Brian Miller said...

dang...rough on joe...so sad for him too....i love that you captured this thinking of him though...and i hope he found peace too...

dsnake1 said...

wow, this is such a moving write.

i like the way you used the single line to separate the 2 strophes, like a line drawn between two worlds.

Jenny Woolf said...

Mental illness is such a nightmare and I still think we are a long way from understanding it.

Claudia said...

oh dang...this is tough if you see someone suffer so much...sensitively penned and sometimes letting go is everything we can do..

manicddaily said...

Oh very sad poem - the fish image extremely effective. So sad. k.

Zach Payne said...

Oh, Anna. That is just a horrible way for somebody to go; one of the worst ways to die. But I'm glad that this poem, something small and beautiful, came out of that suffering. A wonderful write.

Daydreamertoo said...

I hope Joe is resting in peace now. You must have seen so much over the years. Are they even aware they live in such torment in their minds?
You wrote this with such tenderness, and, I'm sure Joe would be so touched to know he made so much of a lasting impact on you too.
Very moving, and deeply caring write.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

There is no god out there.

Beautifully and sensitively written.

Charles Miller said...

You have really captured the special care that comes knowing the suffering ends. This is a lovely tribute to a man whose life must have been a living hell. Such tender words bring consolation for us, the living, knowing that death ends the pain, yet your question in the commentary about God still stands. Perhaps poetry and quickening the spirit of others is part of it. I do not know. But I think your poem is perhaps a piece of the answer.

HaikuWater said...

Just visiting from Poetry Pantry where I stopped by to post a short poem. Glad I followed your link. A poem that brings the reader up short in surprise and then closes with words of grace. Superb.

Victoria said...

I had many of my former patients come to mind also. You paint a very poignant picture of the dying process and it evokes questions such as yours...why suffering, why death? As far as that goes, why mystery?

Dominic Rivron said...

Poignant. I have similar memories of people I worked with in social care (my job right through the 80s).

Heaven said...

Whew, this is touching and heartfelt. I don't know what it is to see a young man dying but maybe for him, maybe it was peace and life completing ~

Fine writing ~

KB said...

This is well written and thank you for sharing Joe with us.

Poet Laundry said...

Really like the first stanza...great imagery there!

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your welcome comments folks.

Dr Tegner: There are folk I have come across working in mental health whose situation has moved me so much my chest aches with the fullness of it, indeed at times I have been overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness as there is nothing I can do to relieve their emotional pain.

There is a lady who I know now who is so very damaged by schizophrenia and I never cease to be hurt for her, she exists in a living hell now and I sincerely hope when her time comes she is not tortured to the very end as poor Joe was.

Daydreamertoo: Some good folk with schizophrenia ‘lack insight’ into their condition – but that said, I have never come across a patient who was not oh so very aware of their hallucinations in whatever way they presented.


Please be aware folks that PEOPLE who suffer from schizophrenia are not the stereotypical violent mad axemen we read of in the media – please see http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/180/6/490.abstract - and 1 in 5 diagnosed with
schizophrenia will fully recover within a five year period – please see here http://seemescotland.org.uk/findoutmore/aboutmentalhealthproblemsandstigma/schizophrenia

Anna :o]

Rachel Hoyt said...

I feel such pain for people with schizophrenia. It is torture, as you said. Lovely poem.

Cro Magnon said...

So many Joes are hidden away. Good to know that he had you to think of him; even though he's now gone. It must be terrible to be instantly forgotten.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you Rachel and Cro for your welcome comments.

Anna :o]

Luke Prater said...

this is so tragic and so beautifully written, Anna. Thank you. Joe would be smiling

Old Ollie said...

Nice you made your images pop.

Muhammad Israr said...

very well written.. as usual... very considerate of you...

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Anna, I am so sad for your friend Joe. That type of imbalance is hell on earth, and even though he was indeed plagued to the end, I hope God grants his peace in the universal whirl of love, truly. A touching peace, moving. Amy
http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/07/18/life-without-limits-sun-scribs-3ww/

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks chums for your welcome comments which of course are much appreciated!

Anna :o]

Dave King said...

So many case histories like this. Either there is no God out there or He/She/it was not involved with Joe with empathy. (Or so it would seem.) Not sure which I would prefer to be true.

gabriellebryden said...

Very moving words. What a cruel life for that man - so sad. If I believed in God (and I sit on the fence most of the time) I don't believe he would be interventionist - how could the world operate like that, it would be really weird - I think he or she would just let the world unfold as it does naturally and in the next world there would be a counterbalancing of justice (so Hitler is damned and the schizophrenic finds his real voice and contentment) - just a thought.

gabriellebryden said...

Very moving words. What a cruel life for that man - so sad. If I believed in God (and I sit on the fence most of the time) I don't believe he would be interventionist - how could the world operate like that, it would be really weird - I think he or she would just let the world unfold as it does naturally and in the next world there would be a counterbalancing of justice (so Hitler is damned and the schizophrenic finds his real voice and contentment) - just a thought.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for your welcome comments Dave and Gabrielle.

Wise thoughts Gabrielle - and I do so hope you're right.

Anna :o]

Kelli Naple said...

Oh very sad poem - the fish image extremely effective. So sad. k.