The Doctor Readies The Breathing Tube

The Doctor Readies The Breathing Tube

Original Text

Shane Neilson. Complete Physical. Erin, Ontario: Porcupine's Quill. 2010

1Centimetred grace: coiled like a whip,
2entering a place where one can sing,
3or choke a note. Jiggly jangly, the trip
4down the throat a long tunnel, no light
5at the end. And if you could sing,
6it would be catcalls: hiss, hiss,
7and the clunk of machined air hitting
8a lung. Whump. O hissy fit,
9O life-and-death teetertotter,
10you are messenger only. The message?
11Breathe. Hiss. Boo. Spotter
13weightlifter of air, see-through,
14dependent upon hands and necks
15and other bridges, you just pass through,
16your scratchy sound often capped
18I sing of you, I sing of you
19loafing in the gurgling drama
20of a man about to die.
21Will you go in,
22inserted like a comma,
23like a swan-neck,
24will you sneak
25up there like a supple snake
27will you save the wreck
28that cannot speak your name,
29tongue inverted like a comma
30and the relatives asking Why?
31and you saying Hiss, hiss.


12] carina: in anatomy, the carina is the point at which the trachea branches to form the two mainstem bronchi. Back to Line
17] stoma: a hole made at the base of the throat that allows one to breathe during medical procedures. Back to Line
26] laryngeal: pertaining to the larynx, which is commonly known as the "voice box". Back to Line
RPO poem Editors
Jim Johnstone
RPO Edition
Special Copyright

Poem used with permission of the author.