How sweet…

Amazing Grace

We think the wrong things are grotesque.
A few minutes ago I watched
a surgical video on Youtube,
filmed in Nepal, where lawyers
are not so well heard of.

A male patient in early middle age;
his bare distended stomach
was the only visible part of him, the rest
blocked off by a square blue tarp with a window
in the centre exposing the surgical site.

The male nurses swabbed
his shorn belly with brown
turpentine, one switched on the radio,
flooding the room with Asiatic pop.

The doctor made his incision,
parting the skin as though unseaming
a wallet, a small abattoir steaming within.
The intestines were coiled in a spiral,
organized, resembling nothing at first
but cotton candy on a stick.

The surgeon pulled them out,
splayed pinkish and bulging
across that blue tarp, undulating
slightly with a life beyond digestion.

The tall nurse with the face-mask
that barely covered his dark beard
held a child’s bathing basin,
the shape of a kidney, the colour of sky,
for the doctor to decant in.

He made a small incision in the smooth flesh
of the intestinal wall, the motion reminding me
of Friday-night cooking, and ran his gloved fingers
across the length of the hose from the base of the stomach,
compressing the sides of the intestines so that
they touched in an obscene way, like a chef
extracting frosting from a cone.

Whatever was in there quickly bulged,
flowing in a growing lump, reacting against
the finger-pressure, swelling as it travelled
its long convoluted route, rising from egg
to cantaloupe, bursting at last through
the three-inch crack in its duodenal embankments.

Worms poured out in a wave,
thousands of them, the length
and colour of cooked linguini,
fell into the basin while the sitar played
and the nurses laughed. They writhed
in their shit-coats, blindly groping
the walls for the home they had lost.
I can only imagine the smell that they had.

The doctor squeezed and squeezed
at the rescued intestines
which looked depressed now, lifeless,
deflated at last. It was hard to believe
they were healthier for those rough palpitations,
though I would be willing to wager
that the middle-aged man, whoever he was,
felt differently when he woke
the morning after his mauling.

I think he felt cleaner,
for having been gutted, brutalized,
his inner parts fondled.
I bet he felt saved.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on August 9, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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