Of course, the next morning always comes and I find myself in my clinic again, the exam room speaking aloud in all of its blatant metaphors—the huge clock above where my patients sit implacably measuring lifetimes; the space itself narrow and compressed as a sonnet—and immediately I’m back to thinking about writing. Soon enough, my patients start to arrive, and the way they want me to understand what they are feeling only immerses me more deeply in language’s compelling alchemy: “The pain is like a cold, bitter wind blowing through my womb,” murmurs a young infertile woman from Guatemala with what I have diagnosed much less eloquently as chronic pelvic pain. “Please, doctor, can you heal me?”
Excerpt from “Illness as Muse” by Rafael Campo, poet, essayist, and physician. Dr. Campo will deliver a public lecture called “Training the Eye, Hearing the Heart: Art, Poetry, and Healing” on April 21st at 12pm at the Blanton Museum of Art, sponsored by the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies, with support from the Humanities Institute. See our calendar on the left sidebar for more information.
The light increasing – the sun must be rising. It reveals the window as frosted over. Wood muntined, with four small panes, it resembles a house window more than a hospital window. What is it doing in this hall where he lies on a stretcher outside the full–to–capacity ward? He thinks this unfolding in time of the window growing lighter is beautiful, is beauty itself. Yet no one notices. Who can afford the patience? The doctors circulate on appointed rounds, stopping only for the sick and wounded. Is attention to something like this window the work of artists? He does not know the answer to that yet, but he thinks that only artists and sick people stop, out of inclination or necessity, to study beauty that takes so long. The hospital staff has materialized this moment for him, all its factors of time, place, and breath.
Excerpt from “Patience” by Matthew Goulish, Dramaturge. His full length essay will be delivered on January 26 at 7pm in the LBJ Auditorium at our upcoming event, co-sponsored with Landmarks, “O N E E V E R Y O N E: A Conversation with Ann Hamilton.” See our calendar on the left sidebar for more information.
Photo: Robert Westminster by Ann Hamilton from O N E E V E R Y O N E
In medicine, guidelines as to best practices often emerge from the lessons of history. To take in what has happened. To prevent what has happened from happening again. Teaching a student about the transmission of infection from one body to another, the instructor asks the student to press one unwashed hand onto the agar plate and lift it up again, then wait. Days pass. What appears is tiny marks on the surface of the agar, formed into the silhouette of a hand.
Excerpt from “Five Variations on the Opposite of Any Handprint” by Natalie Shapero, Professor of the Practice of Poetry at Tufts University. Her full length essay will be delivered on January 26 at 7pm in the LBJ Auditorium at our upcoming event, co-sponsored with Landmarks, “O N E E V E R Y O N E: A Conversation with Ann Hamilton.” See our calendar on the left sidebar for more information.
Photo: Diana by Ann Hamilton from O N E E V E R Y O N E.