Microscopic Surgery

by David W. McFadden

copyright ©2012 David W. McFadden

Going to stay some time before hopping
on the train all the way to Como.
Disoriented in London. It’s so warm,
humid, but human, overcast and muggy.
Joy’s not well, she got sick in Egypt.

String quartet at St. Dunstan’s in Fleet Street.
Violinist cut her finger in a kitchen
accident and hadn’t played for a year.
Microscopic surgery. Cut nerve.
But now she thinks she’s going to be fine.

After the wine and cheese reception (tacky!)
(but nice) took picture of an old statue
of Queen Elizabeth (the first) that had just
been discovered in somebody’s basement
and installed over the sacristy door.

Walking all through Westminster buying slides.
Weatherman on BBC-1:
Today most wet spots will become
dry and most dry spots will become wet.
Of course he said this with a smiling face.

Notes on the Poem

The final poem in David McFadden's 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize winning collection What's the Score? throws out pretty quickly a word that could describe not only the narrator, but perhaps also the reader: disoriented. From a queasy start, where does that poem take both? The narrator sounds like a weary, slightly befuddled traveller. He's discombobulated by the weather and his travel companion is ill. Everything they're trying to enjoy has an unpleasant undercurrent to it. A musician has had a mishap requiring surgery that seems more compelling to the narrator than her string quartet's music. Wine and cheese receptions are surely normally lovely occasions, but for some reason, the one associated with the string quartet is apparently tacky (relentingly "but nice" on second thought - the narrator can't even make up his mind). His expressions are terse: "Microscopic surgery. Cut nerve." No one seems to be having fun here, which seems out of character for the normally ebullient, defaulting to positive, albeit wry persona present in much of this collection. But just as a clearing of the atmosphere can banish migraines, relieve sinuses and elevate the spirit, the arrival of the BBC weatherman seems to put things in focus for the woebegone narrator and brings a welcome crispness to the poem, too. "Today most wet spots will become dry and most dry spots will become wet." The weatherman is smiling slyly, the narrator is probably in a much better mood ... and so is the reader.

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