Monday, 5 April 2010

The Poetry Bus - Swiss Roll

It's Monday, it's my birthday and it's time for a trip on the Poetry bus, ably piloted this week by Swiss who set the challenge here. We had to choose one or more pictures and get scribbling. More passengers' offerings can be found here.

I chose this picture of an ECG.  I was going to write all kinds of clever about the difference between the heart as a physical organ and the heart as the seat of love but in the end, a simple story came out and begged to be told.

The red-headed nurse said,
“It’s just a routine test, don’t worry,”
The soft brogue of her tongue
Brushed my ears pleasantly.
And one by one the wee thin wires
Began to gossip their news to the twitching pen.
“Can it tell what’s in a man’s heart, this machine of yours?”
I said, “Can it tell if a man’s in love?”
She aimed her patient freckled smile at me,
Making out like she’d never heard such wit,
Even though she must have done a thousand times before.
And I think at that point, that very second,
Even though the patiently scrolling paper bears no mark of it.
Even though the gossiping wires neglected to mention it.
Even though I didn’t yet know it myself.
At that moment, amid the mystery of PQRS,
Sinus rhythm, bundle of His, and all the rest.
At that moment I loved her.


  1. Tis a very happy birthday that you should ideed enjoy the day hen. Here's to many more to come.

  2. Argent - this is lovely, shiver inducing! Like the shape of it too - clever!

  3. @Jimmy - Thank you kindly. It's been a good day, if somewhat quiet.

    @Niamh - My poem has a shape? Never thought of that, I just though centring it made it look tidier.

    @Connie T - Thank you. I did have a happy birtday.

  4. I'm glad you had a happy birthday - seeing as how I missed it. This was great - it reminds me of a song from the Allison Krauss, Robert Plant album - about a fortune-teller.

  5. Bug - Ta for the birthday wishes. I'll have to have a look at the Ali Krauss song, I have that album somewhere.

  6. Really liked the 'gossiping' image, like this machine is discussing you behind your back.
    thanks for sharing

  7. nicely played. and a happy birthday!

  8. Awww - what a lovely uplifting ending. Subtly done, and you avoided all the obvious stuff that's been covered a million times.

  9. Swiss Roll? Like it!But not as much as the poem which is totally wonderful!Brilliant last 7 lines.Fabso!

  10. @CFM - I suspect that machines are talking about us behind our backs all the time - not that I'm paranoid or anything.

    @Swiss - Thanks and nicely driven.

    @Pure Fiction - There were certainly plenty of cliches available, glad I didn't step into too many of them and thanks.

    @Rachel - The patient pun didn't really occur to me at the time but my subconscious must have thought it worth slipping in.

    @TFE - Thank you indeed. I was in two minds whether to split the poem into 2 at that point but left it as it was in the end.

  11. Jeez, with the combination of red hair and a nurse's uniform, why wouldn't you be in love with her?
    What hospital was it by the way? I think I need an ECG.

  12. Oh, I loved this Argent, because it is beautifully and subtly built of small details that made the poem a real moment and yet more.
    Some really lovely lines in it.

    P.S. How did you know that was an ECG?

  13. @Peter - Hehe, I think all hospitals have at least one red-haired nurse by law, so any hospital will do for your check-up.

    @Titus - Thanks for the kind commentos. I knew it was an ECG because of the stuff at the top PQRS, vent rate of xx bpm and whatnot (hubs has a heart condition so I've seen a few of these as well) but the biggest clue was when I saved the image to put on my post, the file was called ECG2.jpg :-)

  14. This is good, Argent, but I've come to expect nothing else from you.
    Good, simple words, each one precise and clear, the whole expressing a meaning both above and below the surface of the writing pen.

  15. @Friko - Thanks, I like the idea of meaning above and below the writing pen. My new one's up now but I'm not particularly pleased with it.

  16. Sorry to arrive a week late, but I must tell you how sweet this is! That might not sound to you like a compliment, but I mean it that way. Lovely poem.


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