No Bed of Roses
(For my father, Edward Israel Strongin, psychologist and for his first cousins, Harry Strongin,
pediatrician, and Elliot Hochstein: skill, distinction, compassion: the doctors)
a psychiatric wing of New York Hospital. Cornell Medical Center
Lace-print of late suCcer elms on lawns. Wing shades knolls folk walk on.
Daddy, home from war, works at the Larch. 1947.
I see a war closer to hand
his squinty-eyed child in buster browns. Apple of his eye?
Soil in Europe still smolders. I see blue saw at eyes.
There are faces
I picture pressed to windows in those rooms.
Susie back home has just been returned from doll hospital. Broken she has gone into the landscape:
having suffered multiple skull fractures
right eye hanging
radio "Mama!" Mama!" fixed again, one wooden arm amputated at the elbow.
In three years the parent hospital will be my home.:
No hip-pain for the time, Dolly. No scoliosis.
Child-Atlas shoulders waiting for wooden crutches for legs.
Like scatter bomb shattering plate-glass in a London bank. Follow your bliss but not if it leads to this.
We had broken the mirror one week before I contracted poliomyelitis
Splinters of looking glass shafted us, the bone
Cancer (shadows & masses) does not go with champagne.
paralysis goes with opiate dreams
a fever that shoot up the spine to bulb of brain
stem: cellulose negatives
x-rays developed in blue rooms
the spinal tap
tells the story:
Mother phones daddy. We live near the three-stories. . .
Diagnosed under an elm, I must be moved to the cathedral of stone.
Glass slides under microscope. Invisible made visible: virus in ballet tulle
A tomboy childhood traded for traction.
uninvited, it stayed from the old into the new century: pristine
unlike porcelain dolls, collections of Royal Doulton & Copenhagen:
photograph albums furred with coal-soots & particles of time.
Neither Mother, father, nor doll back home