In the background there was a sound I can’t forget
nor remember. I could hear the speed of the instruments moving
in small regions close.
Shortly before I had spoken to someone on the floor.
Where is the switch for this? How is it that that wont
go off? Has this thing been oiled lately?
Brad from Medevac who is generous with his instructions
showed me the sharp end of the thing that made
the whole lot spin. What you do is you put that in there.
From the window outside it was frosty & gross. There were
driplets pinned to trees & the cars were late & dewy.
Things melt & sprinkle. I could feel the rolling pain.
With the artillery machinery you should always wear a special hat
& capped boots. I was working with my hands & laptop mainly &
there was no hat.
I’m not sure what comes next exactly. You never are.
Some things start where they mean to end. You could just tell it
was cold by the air pinching.
When I woke my stomach had a need for the white of milk
& the red of jam & bread. The things you eat when you remember
back to having the food prepared & plated, salt & peppered.
In the tidy room with its gadgetry & pulse equipment I was taken
with the pipes running in my arm & the comfy measurement
When the faces of the boys came to see under the covers
I could tell the fixing job hadn’t taken & my standing would
be hard on one leg.
Later they told me the cold was the shock. & soon not too far
off I would be feeling the heat in my stump. I would wait for the
Dial Tone to tell my folks—I am now less.
Sonja Yelich lives in Auckland with her partner and their four children. Her latest book is Get Some (Auckland University Press, 2008), which includes this poem and “Foxholes—Nooses” (Best New Zealand Poems 2005).
Yelich comments: ‘Whilst the poem “Less” focuses for the most part on an accident, it is more about returning from conflict with less—and not necessarily in the physical sense.’