T h e N o t e
by Dale Wisely
Let's begin by thanking Brad Rose, a longtime and frequent contributor to Right Hand Pointing who guest-edited this issue. He's put together a nice selection of 17 poems which we are proud to present. Thanks, Brad, and thanks to all whose work appears in this issue.
The Note is not available this month due to illness. I just got off the phone with her and she sounds terrible. She was surprised to learn that she had tested negative for the flu, because she has all the symptoms, including that telltale "achy" feeling. But whatever viral agent it is has her feeling pretty down. X-ray reveals a pneumonia in The Note's left lung. She has been particularly prone to infections in recent years.
The Note took ill while in Washington, D.C., late last week. She had flown there alone for a conference on restorative dentistry. This conference was to be a significant and meaningful event for The Note and an important step along the way of regaining her active license to practice dentistry. This, after a long period of trouble during which she lost so much, including her marriage, her relationship with her daughter, the ability to practice her profession, and her self-respect. At the conference she was looking forward to a meeting on the "impaired" dentist and how members of that profession could support those dentists struggllng with drink, drugs, and related problems.
The Note said she walked into that meeting at 10:00 a.m. on the first day of the conference feeling perfectly fine, but by 10:45 she knew she was in trouble. "I could feel my lungs filling up with fluids. The fast transition from feeling healthy to desperately sick was really frightening." Sadly, she remembers little of that meeting.
She wrote off the rest of the day's sessions in hopes that a little time in her sleeping room might head off the bug. She quickly went to sleep and, to her shock, woke 4 hours later, after the dinner hour. Then, overnight, she thought she might be dying of some kind of superbug, such was the momentum of the impact. (I interrupted her on the phone call to tell her I liked her use of the word "momentum" there. She reminded me that momentum equals mass times velocity.) She realizes now that she was often awake and delirious during the night. When she slept, she dreamed she was the last living person in the hotel and that everyone else in the hotel had died of the disease.
The following morning she called the airline to arrange a flight home. She knew that the airline would not allow her to fly if they knew she was as ill as she was. So she lied and told them her mother had died suddenly. When she told me this during the phone call, I gently reprimanded her for flying home in that condition and for undoubtedly infecting others on the plane. Not so gently, actually.
This made her defensive and she was a bit offended I chastised her, but I could hear the guilt tangled up in her indignation.
"You don't know," she said.
"What? I don't know what?," I asked.
A few uncomfortable beats passed. This is why I hate telephone calls.
"You just don't know."
"What? You got on an airplane acutely ill. It just seems clear to me that someone with your background ought to know..."
"You don't know the fear of being sick in a hotel room. By yourself. In a strange city. I've come too far. I had to come home. This isn't an ordinary illness. The delirium made me see things."
"That's what delirium does," I said. "You see things that aren't ..."
"No," The Note said, "not this one. This one made me see things that are there."
The Note is responding well to treatment and hopes to be discharged in two or three days.
In addition to Guest Editor Brad Rose, my thanks to Laura M Kaminski, F. John Sharp, F. J. Bergmann, and to all of you who are our readers and supporters. Our very best to you and yours.
Michael Kriesel (ii)