Poem of the Week: Leaving the Hospital
Is it possible to find beauty in the darkest of times? Or, maybe a better question, is it possible that the darkest times bring beauty by highlighting it in stark relief? In her poem, "Leaving the Hospital," Anya Silver explores the sensory moment of reentering the outdoors after leaving behind IVs and hospital life, relishing the tongue of the wind, the exuberance of moths, and the "manifold and golden" petals around her. Anya Silver, the daughter of a Ukrainian immigrant, was a mother herself, learning of her breast cancer diagnosis while she was pregnant with her first child. Her work explored the simultaneity of beauty and pain, as she shared in a 2010 interview when she said, “Nothing focuses your mind and helps you see clearly what’s important quite like cancer. It made me want to explore, even more, the beauty and divinity of the ordinary world.” During her lifetime, Silver was published in numerous journals and released many volumes of her individual work. She died of breast cancer in 2018 at the age of 49, and while it's sad to think that the hospital life that trapped her returned after the sense of freedom expressed in the poem below, there is inescapable hope here that in the worst of times, simple delight can be found in the tiny pause of a moment in our world.
As the doors glide shut behind me, the world flares back into being— I exist again, recover myself, sunlight undimmed by dark panes, the heat on my arms the earth’s breath. The wind tongues me to my feet like a doe licking clean her newborn fawn. At my back, days measured by vital signs, my mouth opened and arm extended, the nighttime cries of a man withered child-size by cancer, and the bells of emptied IVs tolling through hallways. Before me, life—mysterious, ordinary— holding off pain with its muscular wings. As I step to the curb, an orange moth dives into the basket of roses that lately stood on my sickroom table, and the petals yield to its persistent nudge, opening manifold and golden.
- Anya Silver