There Was No One There (Gertrude Stein)

Below is a poem my father wrote with regards to his experience of suffering a heart attack:-

Sunday morning in November ‘87.
Up quite early after a restless night.
Dull pain in top of back,
And lower arms.
Indigestion, again, no doubt!
Downstairs, young Craig was up.
Started to watch a video with him on TV.
The pains in lower arms started afresh.
“I think you should see the doctor,”
Said Craig knowingly.
I let that one go.
Not sure what to do.
Constant, unrelieving pain
Forced me on my knees,
Laid my head
On the arm of an easy chair.
Next, laid on the floor,
Kicking out, in a reflective movement,
With left foot.
Became aware that Craig
Was looking alarmed.
Muttered assurance to him.
Craig went upstairs.
Jean above me,
“Craig is frightened for you,
Should I send for an ambulance?”
“Yes,” I replied.
Got washed and changed.
Soon, ambulance arrived.
Jean pointed out a cut on my foot,
Sustained on the fire surround,
Whilst kicking out.
Overheard on the journey
To Montague Hospital;
Ambulance attendant,
Talking to base:
“He is talking hoarsely,
Could be heart attack.”
In to Casualty,
Examined by a doctor
Of saturnine appearance.
Passed fit.
Go home.
Telephoned
Sharon to drive my car.
Cup of tea whilst waiting.
Nurse handed cup,
I standing to accept.
Felt swirling movement
In the stomach.
“It’s coming again,” I said,
And dropped down dead.
The nurse, seeing that
My eyes had rolled over
Into my head, gave me a
Blow to the chest.
Next a feeling of complete
Loneliness and no memory.
I knew who I was, but
Nothing else.
There was no one there.
Absolute horror in a void,
Or tunnel, with no hope.
From this awful plight
I started to scream with
Dreadful intensity.
This frenzied activity
Culminated in my seizing the
Doctor’s lapels, who was peering
At me from above, with great vigour.
Thus achieving my goal, albeit
Unknown to me, of climbing out
Of the loneliness of the tunnel
And back to life.

James B. Mollekin
Swinton
12 May 2002

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