Dream Songs No 67: I don’t operate often (1964)
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I don’t operate often. When I do,
persons take note.
Nurses look amazed. They pale.
The patient is brought back to life, or so.
The reason I don’t do this more (I quote)
is: I have a living to fail —
because of my wife & son — to keep from earning.
— Mr Bones, I sees that.
They for these operations thanks you, what?
not pays you. — Right.
You have seldom been so understanding.
Now there is further a difficulty with the light:
I am obliged to perform in complete darkness
operations of great delicacy
on my self.
— Mr Bones, you terrifies me.
No wonder they didn’t pay you. Will you die?
friend, I succeeded. Later.
Poem © 1969 by John Berryman. Copyright renewed 1977 by Kate Donahue Berryman. Source: The Dream Songs by John Berryman. By permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.