Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities


Stephen Mead
Albany, New York, USA

Commitment/Knowing, watercolor
pencil on canvas paper

Who am I?  Nobody
but myself.

Here I lie, quite anchored,
a hesitant child led by questions
which assure proper response.
I grant them whatever they want,
a nod or a name.
From them I expect nothing less
and get plenty of, what is called
here, therapeutic stimulation.

The pleasure of such hands
I readily accept, for to them
I am frail, a human to be tended to.
Still, can’t they see?
What I elicit is myself, no
bed-ridden invalid, but a voyager
becoming something else, something

The only solution is to attempt
to react, though sometimes I’m so tired,
I confess, I’d rather fake it, resting
suspended upon the crest of a wave.
How these ripples enchant but exhaust.

Perhaps I’m a rock, some body
the sea requires.  Yet even when I lay
almost effaced, I’m dreaming awake of
terrains I remember, here, a kernel,
there, a crumb.

This is when they think
I’ve probably succumbed.
Actually, I’m given over;
lost, lost to immunity.

Motivation resurrects reflexes.
You see, I am swimming, stroke
after stroke.  Illness is
a metaphor to be tread.  I am
its witness, tell-tale.

If they don’t know it, I protest,
why do I?

STEPHEN MEAD is a resident of New York, published outsider artist, writer, and maker of short-collage films and sound-collage downloads.  Rooted in his experiences as a direct care giver two of his health care related pieces in book form are “Washing the Body” and “Weightless.”

Spring 2017



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