The blood room

Or,
Why a poet can never save the world

Like a strange afterthought,
the X-ray machine in the dark room
throws her huge, metallic arms around me.

Patients stare at their phone screens
with a vacant expression of fortitude
as they wait for their turn.

But nothing matters to me now
except the occasional beep of the ECG machine
and the dancing line on the lifeless monitor;

amidst the whizzing and whirling,
with the world drowned out,
this seems like the last sound of the tired earth
before it falls off to sleep.

Mea culpa [1],
but what have I done to deserve this?

In the blood room,
the attendant gives me a polite smile.

Little does he know that
in school,
I always skipped bio classes
on the day of blood group tests;

I would frantically run out of the lab
on days when an army of cockroaches,
their exoskeletons turned soft
in formalin on the petri dish,
would wait for dissection.

You have slackened off,
my class teacher would write in my report card
that year;

I had rushed back home
with the delight of an infant
at his birthday gift
to look up the word in the dictionary.

The attendant in the blood room
now laughs at my misgivings,
Timendi causa est nescire [2].

I never knew how to deal with
the vacant omniscience of that laughter.

syr

Tapping my hand as he hunts for the vein,
he offers a polite suggestion—
A poet shouldn’t be afraid of blood.

I nod away with an apology
that feeble attempt at a compliment.

A poet can’t always be a flâneur
who walks the streets at night
to burn down cities
for the woman he loves.

A poet does not always
sit quietly in the rain,
at the corner of the deserted platform,
brooding on Hegel and death.

Rather,
he might well be that forlorn pebble on the beach,
left forgotten and unloved,
as the waves wash up against the shore.

He could be a tangled up mess
of wild vulnerabilities and endless possibilities.

A poet can be many, many things,
but certainly not the man of the moment
at the hour of crisis,
non omnia possumus omnes [3].

A poet can hardly save the world.

I softly chuckle away
at the untimeliness of this sudden wisdom
as I close my eyes to welcome the pain.

…………………………………………………………………………..

Endnotes:

[1] Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that means “through my fault” and is an acknowledgement of having done wrong. The phrase comes from a prayer of confession of sinfulness, known as the Confiteor, used in the Roman Rite at the beginning of Mass or when receiving the sacrament of Penance.

[2] Ignorance is the cause of fear — a phrase attributed to the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

[3] Latin phrase meaning “We all can’t do everything”.

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