Friday, December 2, 2011

Draft Process: What Collects in the Dark Tunnels

52º ~ brilliant slanting sun, very little wind, a few robins left over from the flock

After the Thanksgiving break, I was a bit shy about returning to the drafting process this morning, but that's to be expected.  It's amazing to me how missing one week makes such a huge difference.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I've had an idea brewing about my sickly speaker.  She has a fever of unknown origins and a difficult to diagnose disease that relates to her blood in some way.  The procedure I wanted to include in a draft was a blood transfusion.  I also ended up thinking about the bone marrow biopsy our cat went through as we tried to diagnose her disease.  So, I kept playing with the ideas as I went through my morning routine.

Somewhere between the shower and breakfast, I remembered that I'd written about the coming winter in the last draft and the poem began to coalesce as the speaker commented on the ice on the window and the ache in her hip from where they collected a bone marrow sample.

The poem begins:

The cold has settled in, the window wreathed
in crystals sharp as the ache in the bone of my hip

where the whitecoat scooped the marrow.

It progresses to the fact that the transfusion is set to begin and the speaker speculates about how her health might improve based on this new development.

It alternates between couplets and single lines, and uses only a few words I gathered from Quan Barry's new book Water Puppets, which I just bought a few weeks ago.  It turns out, again, that the poem was already percolating away and I didn't have to rely on the word bank for much.  I suppose I am moving away from the process, which is fine.  I'll take the poems any way they come.  For the title, I did fish around in the book for some line that might work and came up empty.  I did come across the phrase about a "dark trap where things collect" in the poem "de natura vincularum."  That sparked what became the title of the draft as I thought about the veins and tubes associated with a blood transfusion: "What Collects in the Dark Tunnels."

This picture is from Science Photo Library (click image for link).  It shows a woman getting a transfusion of goat's blood to treat tuberculosis.  Here is the info:

Tuberculosis goat blood transfusion. This procedure was carried out by the French doctor Samuel Bernheim (1855-1915) and involved transfusing 150 to 200 grams of blood from the goat to the female patient. It was hoped that this would cure the tuberculosis, but transfusing animal blood into humans had been banned since the 17th century due to the procedures killing the patients. This is because the blood would not have been compatible. This scene was later the subject of a painting by Jules Adler. Artwork from the seventh volume (first period of 1891) of the French popular science weekly 'La Science Illustree'.

Uhm, yeah, my speaker gets human blood, no worries, but I love this image so I'm using it.


Kathleen said...


And as I read the caption to your illustration, I was thinking, "Oh, no! Won't that kill her?"

Sandy Longhorn said...

I know! I couldn't look away. Probably a poem in that picture. :)