An ode to Paul, Paul who was Saul, I write.
I write in free form because
Is too long for iambic pentamemter;
Too short for haiku,
The subject too serious for limerick,
And not yet requiring elegy.
Paul was given a thorn in the flesh
“Lest he be exalted above measure”.
Some say his thorn was seizures.
Paul bore it well, in adversity took pleasure.
If only I were as upright as Paul!
Perhaps then my thorn
Would not fill me with gall.
After I did my time
In magnetic medical caves,
And doughnuts crossed with x-rays,
Sleep-deprived, electrodes on my scalp;
The diagnosis was given:
Or some other paroxymal disorder.
Nine years passed
Before a medicine was found to control it,
Too late for the lass
I took to the Christmas dance.
As we danced, a seizure struck.
We left the dance floor,
Roamed the school halls
While I explained my condition.
We returned and danced some more.
Dance over, headed home,
She was dropped off first.
She got out, I was to follow.
I tried but twixt the car and ground
Another seizure took control.
I could not move,
Was near to falling.
My friend, the driver,
Grabbed my coat,
And pulled me in;
Kept me from a serious fall.
Seizure ended, I looked for the girl,
And found her as she realized
I was not walking her to her door:
She ran the remaining distance.
My heart ached for her.
But too embarrassed,
Too socially awkward,
I did not call, write, or visit.
I did not heed my parents counsel
To select one of these to apologize.
Instead, as time wore on,
Through mutual friends I planted
Seeds of information,
Until the thing was understood.
I once found a dictionary
Sufficiently large to define
Paroxymal and Choreoathetosis.
I remember now only that
It had to do with seizures
And lack of oxygen.
Three medicines later, life seems normal.
You wouldn’t guess I could be
Just hours of sleep deprivation
Or poor nutrition,
Or too many forgotten pills away
From a return to that life.
And still my thorn threatens to return;
The threat now seems most often to come
When I’m about to do something
I know deep down I shouldn’t.
But the knowledge that oxygen helps
Means you’ll know I’m battling it;
You’ll know by sudden changes
In my breathing depth and pace.
I ask not for your sympathy;
Your empathy retain.
I tell you so you’ll understand
Should you see the threat of my thorn.
What you won’t know, I’ll never tell
(Not unless we talk of it),
Is the pleading in my mind:
“Oh, Lord, please, no!
Don’t let me have a seizure now!
My God, help me breathe,
Don’t let me lose control!”
Oh that I were as upright as Paul,
And my thorn was to keep me from boast.
I could then glory in affliction;
Privately enjoy my views of heaven.
Copyright © 2014 H.K. Longmore
I’ve heard that if we were given the opportunity to exchange our “thorn” for any other, we would choose our own…
I have heard the same. I can think of a lot of thorns I would not want to have. I also wouldn’t wish some thorns on anyone.