Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tell me what your pain is like

I am going away to Provincetown, Mass., for four days tomorrow. Looking forward to art walks and beach reading. Here's another poem, before I hit the road.

Tell me what your pain is like.
When did it begin?
In the ear of bone or muscle
or the eye of skin?

Does it flicker, pulse or beat?
Burn or scald or sear?
Pinch or gnaw or cramp or crush?
Does it disappear?

Is it black as love’s rejection
in a lovers’ park?
Is it accidental as
a throwaway remark?

So tell me what your pain is like.
Please articulate.
No doctor, I’m your auditor
and your advocate.

4 comments:

Rui said...

This brings to mind Auden's 'Tell Me The Truth About Love'. It's the sound of it, i think.

Medusa aka expiringpoet said...

I enjoyed the questioning voice in this rhyme, although unsure about the the meaning of the last 2 lines there.

Anonymous said...

to my reading, a compassionate poem, and in a voice that's clear about itself; I like it

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi rui, medusa and anon,
thanks for reading. The 2nd stanza takes its language from Elaine Scarry's book, "The Body in Pain," in which she describes a doctor's/researcher's work in helping patients verbalize their pain on different axes. A cluster of characteristics (say, throb, sear and cramp) may aid a doctor in diagnosing the illness. Scarry's thesis concerns the way pain robs us of our voice.

Jee Leong