Ballad of the Consumptive

Dr. Trudeau's Children of the Forest

I grew up staring starry-eyed at the urban landscapes
of healthier men walking out of doctors rooms with a
head held high while I kept their colds, my lonesome faith.
It wasn’t something to really envy. I wanted good health
and a fine nights sleep. No family. Too carried by business,
I was a rich man but poor in spirit. I supposed it was my lot in life.
I recently tried courting but found that I always coughed.
Made peoples handshakes a little weak, their eyes suspicious.
My smiling demeanor and rich attire could not prepare me
for the sight of my doctor slumping his shoulders and loosing his tie.
Bad news. I’m a consumptive. Tuberculosis in the book.
And it can’t be healed my good friend. Only “accomodated”.
I’ll feel better in Tucson, Arizona or even in the cold,
clear mountain air, they say. That’s where all the consumptives go.
So off I went, after selling my dead man’s house, business, and assets
to become a proper mountain man or forester in the vast wilderness beyond.
They say you can’t carry your riches to heaven. And as life threatens
to close the curtain, I find myself expelling all packages and other such anchors.
Though today I tremble with possible regret and fear, a bloody cough
reprimands. I continue my search for the conscious of the world.
For now and for the morrow I put my ear out to listen to softly sung tunes.
This wagon bounces on the dirt road through the mountain pass. Morning rain
and the soft trots of the horses lumping clay underfoot helps me breathe
sweet nectar of unadulterated air and life. The environment comes alive. Though
I may feel a step to death and my body underneath me fails me, I feel granted
the wings of a bluejay, darting through the trees in rushing passion and wonder...
I’m alone now, the caravan continues in the distance from the spot I said to stop.
I like the way the woods look here. I like the way it seemingly calls my name.
If I were to write my last note, let it say remember this way, the thick bleeding
heart of life calls like the breezy, roaring waterfall that now stands before me,
the excitement of life as luscious as the green leaves that dot the fortunate forest
yet around me! Providing a canopy of escape from the self and the miserable.
I’ve made a family with the forest. The deer in their ignorance
can be called my children and won’t protest or whimper. Good dreams.
As fortune has it, today I found a cave. A good cave, a faithful cave,
one that was empty and uninhabited, remains of a hibernating bear long gone.
I’ll make my stay here.
I spend my nights around the fire, enjoying rough kills from hunting skills
I learned as a boy and even telling the same stories my father would tell me.
And I feel the comfort of my voice echo through the brazen cave walls.
I’ve taken to wearing the clothing of the wild, as my city suits
once used for tea parties and social gatherings have become woeful and sullen.
They were useless here. Always have been, actually.
The promise of today keeps me going as I breathe crisp air
on the mountainside. Feeling my infinite mortality vanish in the landscape.
I fall asleep to the songs of trees and other mysteries of the forest.
It is a good sleep, a fitful sleep, and something I wholly searched for.
The land is good. I release myself and even though the coughs
keep coming, I find life all the more enjoyable. Perhaps one day,
I’ll lower my head and feel the rushing of the waterfall fall down on me,
blurring my vision as I stare at a wonderland of crystalline droplets dancing.
And there will be my last stand, my last sight,
as the waters that fall take me down, stealing
my spirit with each drop until the pool below
is found as pure and simple as nature had left it.
Cleansing me into eternity.
© 2015 Parker Jennings


Based on a PBS documentary I watched on 19th century Tuberculosis cases and how the relevant medicinal advice of the day was to leave the urban landscape and become healthy by breathing in the crisp, cold mountain air.

This apparently worked for the influential Dr. Edward Trudeau, leading U.S. medicinal practitioner on Tuberculosis, also called Consumption. He took the advice and fluctuated his health in the cold mountain air and told many of his patients to follow suit. He eventually became the U.S. pioneer for championing the discovery of bacteria to become a mainstream medical idea for the transmission of diseases and common ailments

For more information, wikipedia article link here

Consumptive, Death, Health, Jennings Life, Living, Nature, Parker, Poem, Poetry, Rejuvenation, Sickness, Tuberculosis, Water, Wilderness,

Liked or faved by...
Cory Garcia
Other works by Parker Jennings ...