Monday, February 22, 2010

Thornton Hospital Poem #1

I'm really glad they

Built this hospital for me,

Its' worth getting sick just

To come here and see.

High on one wall

A black lacquer painting.

In gold,

A woman stands behind

A happy poet,


On both

Words and wine.

I was back in the hospital for the last few days, thanks to a nasty bacterial "shower" that developed in the course of the routine exchange of a billiary drain. It runs through my transplanted liver and into my small intestine (more information than I'm sure you wish to know). It isn't the first time this has happened and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last time.

What made this visit stand out, though, is that I got sick many hours after the procedure, at around 1 AM and so found myself in the emergency room of a different hospital, the much closer Thornton Hospital in La Jolla. After a quick examination, they admitted me to a private room on the second floor and started an aggressive course of IV antibiotics and antifungals.
After a day or so I started feeling a bit better and settled in and began taking a closer look at my surroundings, and lovely surroundings they were!

Thornton Hospital is part of the UCSD system, but was founded by the astonishing grants from many of San Diego's wealthiest families, chief among them the Thorntons, and may the blessings of the Lord be upon them evermore! It is simply the most beautiful hospital one could ever wish to find oneself admitted to. Built around a large open court, the angled glass ceiling rises four or five stories high, illuminating the large central space with daylight. The floors are of beautiful marble, with tasteful geometric inlays. Generously comfortable couches and chairs are arranged in carpeted areas and the walls are decorated with antique Chines art, with cabinets of lovely Chinese ceramics of the finest quality.

I established a daily routine of Zazen in my room followed by 20 minutes of walking the halls with classical music on my ipod. Then I would lie in bed for the next few hours (often with an IV drip in my arm) and read from my Kindle or from one of the books I had brought along. Along the way I was inspired to write a few poems, such as the one above. The photo is of one small panel in a much larger piece, one of my very favorites. In it we see the poet seated at his low table, books spread out before him, along with a wine jug. A lovely lady stands in attendance and behind, above, a full moon rises in the black lacquer night.

I felt just like this lucky fellow, my books spread out, my verses before me. In attendance, a wonderful staff of nurses to help me heal. True, there was no wine, but Thornton has a room service style food program. Simply dial up the desk and a short while later a very nice spa-type meal of ones own choosing was delivered by smiling kitchen servers.

I had a few medical adventures there, all was not skittles and beer. But my stay there was certainly memorable and I have a few pretty good new poems in my notebook. Now, really, it's not worth getting sick just to go there, so guard your health closely. But if fate does draw you there, I recommend the fish tacos, a true San Diego specialty.