Friday, July 21, 2006
So, the hospital experience is improving. I spent about three hours with my brother yesterday, chatting, sitting with and reading to him. I had brought The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay with me for him to read, he had had the somewhat ominous and overly deep Iron John sitting on the side table when I went to see him the day prior.
I started reading to him. Not only was it nourishing for him to have someone just there, and for him to hear a voice, but the humour of the story and its poignancy right from the outset are nourishing. It was difficult for him to laugh because of his headache, about which we laughed afterwards. Again, actions intersect with memories. It brought back all the memories I have of reading to him when he was much younger when we lived in Green Point. We would lie on his bed with his Noddy light on (very different in tone and structure to those at the hospital) and I would read to him from books that he liked. One of the first things that we would read were my comic annuals – books my Dad had given me called Beano and a few others about Dennis the Menace (the originial British one, not the later US one) and his friends. It graduated to things like horror stories and others. James always loved the Goosebumps series of books. When I was younger (I read to him since I was in Primary School) I always enjoyed reading, I loved putting on voices, the play of it with him. Equally, although in a more nuanced fashion I would hope, I did that yesterday. I felt echoed of my ability, I had to slip into a space where I would be comfortable enjoying the reading while being in the context of what he was going through with being in hospital. All round it was a much more positive experience than my first visit, he looked much better, he communicated fine. I am going to go through to see him later. There is a chance he will be able to come home this weekend.
What is funny for me though is how I realise that our friendship, not just simply a filial connection, had its beginnings in those moments of my reading to him. Not only would we read and relate to characters we'd talk about what happened. I had this trick I could pull with his Noddy Light where I could switch it off with my elbow and make it look like it was doing it by itself “Magic!”. He loved this trick and for a while it was a ritual part of my reading to him. It is these nuances in brotherhood that have drawn us so close, both as a function of history and as a commonality of those things that stimulate and entertain us now. Which is why I think it was even more difficult for me to see him on the hospital bed. He was confounded somewhat when he realised how concerned, Mum, Steve and I were for him. He said he was getting better and that was that. The thing is, for all of us we are so involved in finding solutions to things, to be able to take worthy action that a situation in which we cannot do so is strange and disempowering. But we have to get over that too, so don't read too much into it.
Anyway, below is a poem I started to write on Wednesday after seeing him for the first time. It is a work in progress, but we'll see where it goes.
A needle clogged with blood
creates an entrance into
but clogging cannot stop
the dosing, it cannot
arrest the opiates
slowly entering and removing
you, us thinking it is
one: they take the part that feels
pain, stopping the story
it can tell
two: they take the soul from
your eyes: windows are not meant
to be bloodshot
three: you stop moving as you do:
the scratches and nervousness for
which you need nerves
and on that bed with its needles
and tubes, richly clad in blue, you
are no longer you
you stopped; it was difficult for me
to touch someone I didn't know,
you were that far away