Friday, March 7, 2008

The Appalling Snow

This morning I went to physical therapy and, during a discussion of the impending snowstorm, suddenly realized that my knee hadn't responded to the drop in barometric pressure by aching like a bad tooth all night. It is another one in the growing list of blessings I am counting since I had my knee replaced. Until you have lived with pain for so long that those who love you think that irritability is part of your personality, you have no idea what a relief it is to run errands and not pay with pain the rest of the day, or to attend an evening event and realize that part of your attention has not been distracted by the fact that you hurt so much at that hour. It makes me think of an Auden poem that I have felt too intensely the past few years, an early poem known by its first line: "As I walked out one evening." It came into my head today because of the line about "the appalling snow"--any snow in March is pretty darn appalling, if you ask me. These lines, in particular, used to resonate with me:

O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or today.

Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

I thought of these lines, and I realized that they don't resonate with me the same way they used to. Putting your hands in the dishwater, often more than once a day at our house, isn't the same kind of repetitive, despondent action when you haven't been able to do it for a while. The old sense that time is passing but my life isn't changing is gone. Once some of the headaches go, some of the worries go with them. Of course, there's my brother's immortal line about worry: "You can worry, Jeannie. But it won't change anything."

I'm doing less worrying, including less about slipping on slick roads and sidewalks, because I have more control--literally, I can control what my legs do a lot better than I used to be able to. The "surgery leg," as they call it at physical therapy, is not yet as strong as the other leg, but it's getting there. Life isn't leaking away for me anymore. I have faith that spring will come, despite today's snow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm thrilled to hear that it seems the surgery worked!

Now that I have my own chronic pain to contend with, I know just what you mean about how it makes one irritable. I always think of the line from the Sound and the Fury about how Christ wasn't crucified; he was "worn away by a minute clicking of little wheels." It wears you down.

Love Auden.