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This is Jacket 14 - July 2001   |   # 14  Contents   |   Homepage   |

This issue of JACKET is a co-production with SALT magazine

Coral Hull

Pop’s Stroke

Coral Hull - photo of Pop - 1

My aunty flew down from Brisbane to assist him. When I rang my grandmother, she said, ‘Karen has been so good. She’s out in the garden picking beans.’ On Wednesday she took the beans to the hospital to remind pop of his garden, that he had worked in since retirement in the harsh clay soil of Liverpool. She thought that he might like to give some to the nurses. I asked, ‘how did the beans go down?’ My mother said, ‘he flew for her.’ My aunty reported back to us. She said, ‘he didn’t want the beans. He told me to shuv the beans up my arse.’

Coral Hull - photo of Pop - 2

Pop fell face down towards his plate of garden vegetables and that was the last time my grandmother was able to communicate with him. It was the end of part of him. I was frightened that my perception had permanently shifted after taking LSD until my counsellor said, ‘we end and begin in each moment.’ My grandfather has had a stroke and it is hard to philosophize at this point. However, he is happy making jokes in the hospital on most days. He reminds everyone, ‘I’m eighty six. I’ve had a good run. It‘s our quality of life that matters.’

Coral Hull - photo of Pop - 3

When the message was left on my mobile cell phone, I rang my grandmother. She said that pop had a stroke and it was unlikely that he would return from it. It didn’t register. This is okay. Not everyone who has a stroke or dies is a good person to those who are alive. We don’t have to fake grief or question ourselves. Nobody wants to wish a stroke on anybody. I’m just pleased he’s kind of okay now. Apart from that nothing.

Coral Hull photo of Pop 4

The other elderly men in the hospital comment on the sandwich fillings and wait patiently for their families to come and visit them. Pop is less civilised. He calls the nurses ‘old cows.’ When they brought his dinner in, he dug his nails into their forearms. This is because he is used to being independent and the family tolerating his irritable moments. Where do you live? asked the doctor. ‘In Orange,’ he said. This was the wrong answer, so the doctor asked him again. ‘Where do you live?’ ‘I live in a hospital.’ He knows some things. He confided in my mother. ‘I’m not normal,’ he said.

Photographs by Coral Hull

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This issue of Jacket is a co-production with SALT magazine,
an international journal of poetry and poetics, edited by John Kinsella
PO Box 937, Great Wilbraham, Cambridge PDO, CB1 5JX United Kingdom ISSN 1324-7131

This material is copyright © Coral Hull
and Jacket magazine and SALT magazine 2001
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