In Sickness and Health and a new poem ‘Turkey Vulture’

“Viriditas”, wc, janekohut-bartels, 2000

This has not been a good year health-wise. Beginning of the year, I severely sprained my right ankle.  That took 5 months to recover  as i ripped tissue. April 1st I had 5 weeks of vertigo where I would have been happy enough dead.  July 4th I broke my left wrist and cracked a rib in a 6 foot fall from the back porch.  I am trying to type this in the one finger peck and hunt mode.  In mid-Sept. I am scheduled for 5 dental implants and something called a sinus-floor-raising. I had to stop all pain meds because they raise blood pressure too high. 

I don’t recommend a broken bone anywhere without pain meds….now, just aspirin.

The “Sickness and In Health” part of this entry is about my husband of many years: he has shown amazing fortitude in the face of all of this, and has taken over the lion’s share of household labor.  I am truly grateful.  I make a mess of the kitchen trying one-handed to make dinner, etc…..and he spends more than an hour cleaning it up.  Everynight.

He has cheerfully been at my beck and call, and I continue to be amazed.  This is love in real time, with dirty hair, catankerous moods and tears on my side and commanding strength and patience on his.

I am reminded of part of a poem by W.H. Auden:

Rejoice. What talent for the makeshift thought

A living corpus out of odds and ends…..

The sensual properties of one dear face?

It’s from Auden’s poem “In Sickness and In Health”.

This situation has not been inspiring any poetry, or anything much else….but yesterday…or actually the night before, I went to sleep with some words in my mouth…by morning i had a poem, one that needs work, but at least there was something.  I think this is what disturbed me most of all….this emptiness of thought, any creativity….taken over by pain that I could not control. It controls me.

Lady Nyo

Turkey vulture

I once knew a woman

Living in a scrubby trailer park

Down near the scrub pines of Florida.

She was poor as a church mouse,

half –crazed by life.

She fed all strays

-was the pariah of the neighborhood.

Every evening a flock of vultures,

Like fixed-wing aircraft

Would skim the pines,

Land in a muddle of feathers,

(Awkward birds out of their element)

Land, and with a group waddle

Come to the cat food offered in pans.

They were patient guests

And waited for the strays to finish.

There was decorum

Among them,

These fierce looking birds.

Perhaps the charity offered

Had humbled their nature:

Or perhaps they had reformed;

I don’t know.

They had a leader named “Frank”

Who held back until the others were done.

Frank would never face you;

He sat sideways

(Though I believe he peeked.)

Perhaps he was ashamed

A Lord of the Sky

Brought down to this station,

To fill his crop with kibble

From a dented metal pan.

Come sit with me.

Extend a feather,

I promise not to stare.

Your warty red neck,

Your hang-dog countenance

Does not disturb me.

Come sit beside me,

Let our talons dig into the sand

Let the ocean cleanse our feathers

I will call you friend, brother

For the gift of trust

You have brought on your wings.

jane kohut-bartels

copyrighted, 2012


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29 Responses to “In Sickness and Health and a new poem ‘Turkey Vulture’”

  1. Yousei Hime Says:

    Feel better and have nothing but wonderful days from now on.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    from your mouth to God’s ears….thank you, dear friend.



  3. Steve E Says:

    Jane, I will comment again, but wanted to not forget this first thought: I just finished w 2 days of Vertigo–and I cannot see HOW you suffered 5 WEEKS. I wished I was dead in two days. Then at 1 AM Wednesday I woke up, no more dizzy, nausea, heaves, ALL GONE, just like that! OH! Gog I feel for your difficult time. If only there were some PAIN involved with Vertigo–but no, all you are is incapacitated.

    Now I’ll go back and read the “rest of the story–grin!


  4. Steve E Says:

    Thanks for your husband–I would like to meet him–a real man!

    About the poem…it is so true, you know, that we write of the erotic, titillating lust, sex, L O V E …but what is often missing in our dissertations is that big word TRUST!

    I am fortunate to have seven good friends (have not even met several of them) who I trust, and therefore invite to
    cleanse our feathers in the sea,
    and come…sit with me.


  5. ladynyo Says:

    thank youm friend steve


  6. ladynyo Says:

    i am glad it was only two daysm steve,,,,,bad enough


  7. Steve Isaak Says:

    I hope you feel better, ASAP. I haven’t been as visible to a lot of my friends – online and off-line – as I’ve been battling serious depression (it’s largely situational, as my financial and mental situations have been seriously frakked), and a $900 root canal that I can’t get (‘cos I’m broke) – a much-needed root canal that guarantees a 24/7 migraine with nerve-fire dental/jaw pain.

    I need comp and reading glasses – another thing I can’t afford – i.e., less time on the comp, aside from what needs to be done.

    (I’m not comparing my suffering to yours, by the way – you’ve been/going through way more pain than myself, of course. I’m explaining why I drop out of sight so much, especially in the last year or so, and saying I can relate on a smaller, less hellacious level.)

    It’ll get better for us, in our level- and situation-varied lives, because it has to, at some point, on a long enough timeline. That’s usually the way life works for me, anyway!

    Enjoyed your poem a lot, also – no shock, as I generally enjoy your work. =)


  8. ladynyo Says:

    steve….i was thinking of you this week and wondering….first, there should be a dental clinic somewhere where you are that can help with that tooth. i hope you find one soon. we have dental insurance thtu humana that basically pays for nothing. big rippoff.

    dwpression,,,,a serious situation that black dog that takes up residence in the best of us, sorry for this, it is something to be addressed.

    i hope things let up for you soon, steve,,,,your friend here (and those out there) are wishing for better times for you.

    with love.


  9. Spiros Zafiris Says:

    ..wonderful Frank poem Lady Nyo…be strong..>>spiros


  10. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, Spiros….I am trying.

    Lady Nyo


  11. Richard Cody Says:

    Take care of yourself so that you may fly again!


  12. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, richard.



  13. laura hegfield Says:

    “Come sit beside me,

    Let our talons dig into the sand

    Let the ocean cleanse our feathers

    I will call you friend, brother

    For the gift of trust

    You have brought on your wings.” Oh Jane this is beautiful…I’m so sorry you’ve had such a difficult and painful year of ill health…I’ve experienced the 5 months of non-stop vertigo thing myself a few years back. I pray that good health will land softly and sit and stay a long while.


  14. brian miller Says:

    i am so glad that you have him ther to care for you…i hate to imagine the effort in typing this jane…omg…take care of yourself….wow on the feeding of the vulture and even inviting them in or over for conversation…that is telling surely….


  15. Susan Says:

    “Turkey Vulture” is an amazing poem, so balanced and controlled between narrative and allegory–no doubt being ill added to that–not enough pain med, hurting mouth, work to do, all the things you hold still to focus. And it is Brilliant! (I’m not saying to stay in torment! Rest, Heal, let the time fly, and bathe in the love of your husband.) It is also good no matter how much trust Frank brings in his brought-low state, to be sure that he keeps his talons in the sand.


  16. ManicDdaily Says:

    Well, after that introduction, I was not expecting such a beautiful finished lovely evocative poem. It’s really cool. I’m so sorry you’re sick, but your poetical offerings are not suffering, if this is an example. Well-done. I loved the vividness of this, and the humor, as well as humanity –not right word – universality? k.


  17. ayala Says:

    Jane, I am so sorry to hear about all your health issues. I wish you well and you are blessed to have such a wonderful husband. Best wishes.


  18. Rose Says:

    Well, Jane, that just sucks big time. I haven’t visited for so long and then, when I do, discover that you’re in so much pain. So glad, however, that your husband has been taking such good care of you. I am hoping for your speedy recovery.



  19. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Rose, so good to hear from you…hope you are well.

    the biggest issue right now, besides the pain, is the inability to type! That’s a bummer. Closes down a lot.

    The poetry seems to have been served with this downtime, though…I have had time to read a lot of Stevens and Yeats….just getting my head around them.

    My very best to you and yours…



  20. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, ayala….yes I am…blessed with him.



  21. ladynyo Says:

    Hi K.

    Thank you so much for visiting and liking the new poem. It’s rather terse, but then again….some things call for that attitude?

    Humanity or Universality both work for me.



  22. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Brian….not being able to type is a main pain in the….you know.

    Thank you for reading this poem. Husband makes it all possible.



  23. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Laura!
    5 months of vertigo? OMG. 5 weeks was enough for me. somedays I thought I would die…but didn’t. It was exhausting.

    Thank you so much Laura for reading and your lovely encouragement and good wishes.




  24. ManicDdaily Says:

    Ha! Hope you are feeling better. k.


  25. Charles Elliott/Beautyseer Says:

    You have taken a fascinating observation of nature and turned it into a paen to trust. Lovely!

    I hope you are getting good diagnoses. I had broken bones and took a year to get my diagnosis of multiple myeloma. We messed around with osteoporosis first and nearly lost too much time before understanding what was really going on. Be well!


  26. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Charles….your diagnosis is much more serious than mine…however, I am worried about this wrist. Surely after three weeks exactly, it shouldn’t be so painful.

    I wish and pray for your health. I am so struck with the kindness of people reading this blog.

    My very best to you….you are a wonderful and deep poet.



  27. Gay Says:

    Dear Jane – this is a beautiful poem and a metaphor for generosity of spirit which you always have. My heart is going out to you. I pray you heal quickly and the pain diminishes. I wish I were there to help out but know I am sending good thoughts your way whether you hear from me or not. Slower to make rounds these day it seems.
    Much love,


  28. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Gay ….thank you so much for your reading this poem….and your compassionate sentiments….I am on the mend, but people tell me these things take time. First time for a broken bone…and it ain’t fun.

    We are both slower to make the rounds….and the heat has something to do with this I think.

    much love back.



  29. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Susan….this is a lovely comment of yours, and it goes straight to my heart.



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