Originally written as why I didn’t go to mike ladd’s 50th birthday party, a kind of ‘the dog ate my homework’ letter of apology to my Max-Mo mate, poet Mike Ladd. The story’s 100% true. I still lack feeling (and always will) in the finger tip, making certain guitar chords and shakuhachi notes difficult. My carelessness also resulted in missing a really good party by all accounts. But quite a decent poem came out of it…
Why I missed Mike Ladd’s 50th Birthday Party.
The tractor-mower hits a stump on the slope and
flips in a second. Thrown off, earphones ripped from
the iPod when Sergio is between mas que na and da.
Then an adrenalin-fuelled leap to avoid
being crushed between tractor and post
and trailing fingers go thump in the blades.
When the eyes see the end of the finger hanging,
a flap of mincemeat, a second thump of the heart –
orchestral stab in a horror movie soundtrack.
The other hand squeezes
mashed flesh to stem the flow.
The drive to Flinders Medical Centre, cold sweat
dripping into eyes, blood dripping on gumboots,
willing myself to breathe slowly. Pain like hot needles.
Triage, grass-clippings on the ER floor
Calming pulse, x-rays. The matter-of-fact
Egyptian surgeon with French accent.
At first my eyes clamp shut but
he works for almost an hour reconnecting
nerves, tissues and finally skin.
I watch him fascinated as he reconstructs
the end of my ring finger,
a busted raw sausage held together
with fine blue thread.
© rob walker, 2011.
Originally published as why I missed Mike Ladd’s 50th birthday party
in Metabolism: Australian Poetry Members Anthology, an e-journal released in early 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9871-7650-9 Dewey Number: A821.3