SOVEREIGN AND SEVERE | Woods Nash

 

From Moshi, Tanzania

Dawn arrived with an onrush

    of vomit and antibiotic in my butt,

which stung like death.

    And I slept, slept sluggishly

 

through a morning language lesson,

    beyond the ripe avocados of lunch,

and past an afternoon sliver

    of carrot cake severed from its home

 

in American Café. And still I

    slumbered like sawdust in the shed

while someone else tugged on gloves

    and clipped the novel top of the hedge.

 

Nor were they my hands that lit

    candles in the evening. I kept to my

sleeping and could not be roused

    for even a sip of tea or pinch of bread

 

before the others went to bed.

    It must have been 3 a.m. when a pipe

burst in the kitchen and sent its

    steady gush sliding for the slump

 

of my bunk. And I awoke like a ghost,

    surprised to find the slick tiles awash

with papery plankton—journal jetsam

    inking like a dead squid—

 

and my steps in the tepid water

    no longer aloft on the topography

of sentences, but sounding

    mere splashes of loss, loss, loss.


Woods Nash teaches in the Honors College at the University of Houston for the program in Medicine and Society. He’s also affiliated with UT’s McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics and teaches in the McGovern Medical School. He’s published articles on Walker Percy, Cormac McCarthy, and David Foster Wallace. His poems, while mostly failing to appear, have been seen in JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, and the Journal of Medical Humanities. But none of that would tell you anything about his affections for soccer, Kentucky bourbon, and Nick Drake.

PRINT