Poem in Focus – ‘Axel’
Axel, who never had a rocking horse, once rode a bright blue tricycle. He called it his ‘Athenian Rhapsody’. He loved to play the tuba in bed, and when he was feeling particularly happy, would sit on the loo in the outside shed, pants around his ankles oompa-pa’ing till the cows came home.
That was quite a while ago; the tuba and the tricycle have gone, yet he can still hear the triangle sound the bell made on his tricycle, and still remembers the scraping of the old keys on the ancient tuba.
Axel listens to old sounds very well (all the time): he loves Bach, Mendelssohn and Donovan. He loves to eat crumpets with honey and drink a large white mug of milky tea; it reminds him of summer fishing trips to Lake Eucumbine, mushrooms and gnats in the full-sun morning air, (he loves to talk fishing when he’s playing chess with Carl the orderly, often quoting from his favourite magazine, ‘Modern Fly Fishing’).
Axel was once an expert at fly fishing; tying the ‘super moonshadow’ to perfection (he named the fly after what he thought was a Donovan song, written by Cat Stevens).
When the hospital staff remember to buy him a new box, Axel loves to drink Lady Grey tea made from tea bags, he prefers tea bags, he feels that somehow they bring clearer definition to tea making.
Axel thinks a lot about definition, noting how the edges of his bed are very clearly defined by the clean-blue hospital blankets that drop suddenly to the ocean of the grey linoleum floor. He likes the smell of cleanblue, it’s somehow a new sea to sail and sometimes the feel of his favourite jumper when he was a boy: a definite edge of beginning and end. He knows that soon he’ll cross the floor-grey ocean, sailing under a white sheet. But this is not a thing Axel dwells on for very long, he prefers to think of such things as his next chess move and flirting with Miriam the night nurse.
Axel has just beaten Carl in a game of chess. He’s said goodnight to Miriam, a long quiet goodnight, a good long, good night. He won’t wake again, he senses this – and is peaceful.
When his last breath comes he hears; a faint scraping sound and a single precious note from a triangle bell on a bright blue tricycle.
They’re good sounds.
They are old sounds.
They bring him…
Martinos © 2008