The Ship Pounding

Each morning I made my way  
among gangways, elevators,  
and nurses’ pods to Jane’s room  
to interrogate the grave helpers  
who tended her through the night  
while the ship’s massive engines  
kept its propellers turning.
Week after week, I sat by her bed  
with black coffee and the Globe.  
The passengers on this voyage  
wore masks or cannulae
or dangled devices that dripped  
chemicals into their wrists.  
I believed that the ship
traveled to a harbor
of breakfast, work, and love.  
I wrote: “When the infusions  
are infused entirely, bone
marrow restored and lymphoblasts  
remitted, I will take my wife,  
bald as Michael Jordan,
back to our dog and day.” Today,  
months later at home, these  
words turned up on my desk  
as I listened in case Jane called  
for help, or spoke in delirium,  
ready to make the agitated
drive to Emergency again
for readmission to the huge
vessel that heaves water month  
after month, without leaving  
port, without moving a knot,  
without arrival or destination,  
its great engines pounding.
Other works by Donald Hall ...