A Little Pneumonia

By Jan Kemp

A little pneumonia
to Katherine Mansfield

The German for lung is Lungenflügel – lungwing –
clever you, Katy, calling it your ‘wing’ to fly. Now,

one of mine’s infected too & antibiotics will kill
all those bacteria, well, on the wing. Also cures

gonorrhoea, would have cured your TB & you’d
have had more life, looking in death’s face at 34:

‘shall I try to get up, if I do will I cough,
if I cough I can’t breathe,’ ‘lift my head Ida,’

‘say it pathetically, please’ (you quote yourself)
into the pillow. ‘I’ve got to try.’ Your will, that steel.

Lunch over, having to lie down again, (know what
you mean & me a swimmer. Lungs!), then,

all those stories like mist off the land
lifting up to your pen; then, all that quick,

fine, flying work till they found
their places: your children of the sun

This Poem Features In:

Browse Collections By Category

Select from our entire catalogue of poetry collections: