Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ann S's Distresses, Ours

Her bad, bad two-day headaches, nausea, and spine pain.


She's stable now, she's good, with morphine and a ride home,

No more bugs, and pain control.

Deserved it not. Earned none of it,

And lovely, kind, and getting well,

She must be wondering why an agent came

A vandal carving its initials in her head.

Meningococci, Dr. Mengele, or men

To break a world need nothing more than whim.

The god. The universe's fashioner. The Word.

Before her sufferings, theodicies lie dim.



  1. Such a tender and caring poem. My heart is with you. Though not suffering from the illness you described, I have an adult daughter who has suffered migraines since the age of eight. She finally got some help at Cleveland Clinic, but just helps the management of pain. There is no cure and it impacts her life almost daily. I watch her courageously juggle being a wife, mom and career woman in spite of it all. I wish I could take the pain from her and give it to myself. Watching a loved one suffer is abysmal. If love could only cure such ailments....

  2. Ann is a friend and the wife of a friend of long standing. The impotence of my writing a poem -- as I told them, a 'minstrel of her misery' -- has an effect of alienating me from yet more of what other people have to face.

    What she and he have preferred is simply not to have focus on it, an utterly reasonable way of 'moving on'. Our society makes illness, in a way, something we feel we have to hide. Some others prey on any weakness.

    Love isn't any physical cure, as you point out. It does provide us with a sense of what we wish we were capable of doing, the kind of people we want surrounding us when we are ill. That's not small.

    Joan Didion wrote, in at least one essay, about her migraines, from which she suffered for years. You or your daughter might fish through Didion collections for it?

    You've got a good heart.