I was on my back in a swollen creek,
refrigerated and put to sleep, dropping out of time,
just breath assuaging its own battery
into the morphinesweet unreality of the everyday.
Change is a thing one sleeps through.
I can feel myself slipping away, fading away, withdrawing,
this hard loneliness, skull-solid, pushed back into vagueness,
a dome or a canal from any point in space,
cut pink flowers hung in red water.
On the other side of this swamp of dark water, a plane will crash.
I see white pelicans.
White clouds bite down on them like teeth.
Source & Method
A cento, this poem uses one complete line from each of the first twelve poems in the Poetry Foundation website’s online collection, “Poems of Sickness Illness and Recovery” These are, in order of their appearance here: “Sickness” by James Langas; “Sense of Time” by George Bowering; “Diagnosis” by Meena Alexander; “The Following Scan Will Last Four Minutes” by Lieke Marsman; “After the Diagnosis” by Christian Wiman; “A Poem about Pain” by David Budbill; “The Moon and the Yew Tree” by Tory Dent; “Sick Room” by Billy Collins; “It’s going to hurt” by Sandra Simonds; “The Rest” by Jane Huffman; “After His Diagnosis” by Margaret Hasse; “Cusped Prognosis” by Laurie Clements Lambeth
Matt Quinn lives in Brighton, England, where he takes frequent rests and sometimes wishes he didn’t have to. His poems can be found online at The Morning Star, Rattle, The Deaf Poets Society, The New Verse News, and elsewhere.