Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nim - from Notebooks

A song for Luis Alberto Jimenez

Watching “ They Shoot Horses, Don’t they” in the eighties a teenage boy cried.

At lunchtime on February 2000, a Florida drunkard looking for a joyride stole a van from the parking lot of a Publix supermarket in Palm Beach Gardens. Few hours and many drinks later he headed east on a rural road. His stolen van and a 1988 Chevrolet Beretta crashed head-on, instantly killing two of the passengers and severely injuring the driver and a back-seat passenger.

NY Times, August 3, 2008[1]

When they brought him:
two broken thigh bones,
a broken arm and
multiple internal injuries;
no name , no face, no legal status.

For one year, two months and fifteen days
he curled in a ball.
Oblivious of the world,
He’s only bind by
an artificial placenta.
He shouted his second birth to his friend: “You are Montejo”, he said.
Stunning his relatives and medical officials he gradually woke up and started interacting with the world,
“A miracle”, shouted a nurse.
Much to the surprise of the hospital staff, he had regained cognitive function to about the level of a fourth-grade child.
“God showed him favor, mutters the resident.
But the strict realism of the institution calls for
And whom do you hold accountable
for a sheer miracle?
the doctors,
the nurses,
the hospital,
the miracle seeker,
the man that loved life too much.
In Sunday school my children learn that giving birth is a miracle.
In God We Trust.

A child is born uninsured in the United States every 41 seconds-that's more than 2,100 children every day.
(InsurancenewsNet Magazine, Pg. 15 Vol. 103 No. 6, July 11-1, 2008)[2]

Every 41 seconds,
the institution bills a mother
for delivering a miracle.
For the next 25 years
the institution prints paper bills
“In God We Trust” and every
mother bleeds again and again,
the long hours of hard labor
to pay for her miracle.

The bill for Luis Jimenez’s miracle is two million dollars

The hospital employees, normal humans in their ripe age, had to rub off the thought of billing God or sending letters to Santa at the North-Pole- a blemish on sound judgment.

With no one to be hold accountable
for his miracle
all they could do was a transposition :
Luis implies no legal status,
no legal status implies we do not have to treat him
and (add a conjunction here)
since one does not shoot men, but horses
let’s fly him to his (other) country.
This solution is sound by all rules of logic,
as Reason had warned us all miracles end.

According to discharge records a nurse accompanied him back to his native country and signed the paperwork that released him to another’s care. At her return they all felt that they were now allowed to forget, now that they flew away all worries they have had for him.
“You fool, stop crying at the movies! You are a grown-up man now.”
All that Luis was but a labor horse – we used him as long as he could work; we sent him away once he became unable to pay for room and board. All that I was but a pretty stallion for the parade. But now , all bones protruding through my scabby skin, all the ugliness of my long ill suffering days –what use am I? And they do shoot horses, don’t they?

[1] Sontag, Deborah- Immigrants Facing Deportation by U.S. Hospitals , NY Times, August 3, 2008 – I am indebted to the author for the great job she did as a journalist as well as a writer.
[2] The costs of health care are burying American families - InsurancenewsNet Magazine, Pg. 15 Vol. 103 No. 6, July 11-1, 2008


Raven's Wing Poetry said...

Oh my God. A Lucid testament to how much we place value on a man once he "has no more use". Well done.


Annamari said...

thank you for taking time to read this.
I had imagined that it was not I whom wrote this song but one of my 'characters' that is male and was diagnosed with cancer it the last stages. One that could empathize with the feeling of being useless to society in his situation of an ill man better than I could.
One thing that bothered me about society generally speaking (our common voice) is how readily we were to embrace Nastia Liukin for her gold and how easy was to discard Luis Jimenez. And I do not blame Americans for such a feeling , I know other governments would have just the same response or even worse for no one will ever hear about it…

Kimberlee said...

There is so much material to think about here. :) Very thought-provoking.

Nathan said...

So much of this is exactly right. People are commodities and are tolerated as long as they have a "use value." I 'm glad I read this. You write with great passion.

gingatao said...

That is just superbly written, Annamari. Beautiful balance, the emotion doesn't overpower the writing, there is nothing hysterical or overwrought in it, yet the compassion and intelligence shines through the words. It has tremendous structural integrity, the fusion of poetry and prose, journalism and heart. And the piece opens outward with great grace, outward from the single event into the past and the future, outward from one person's story to a whole society. And even this long comment doesn't begin to cover all the wonderful things in this piece of writing, soaring intelligence, great compassion and integrity and tremndous skill and craft.

one more believer said...

they shoot horses is a painful testimony, the underbelly of humanity... but still there is the spirit of life breathing... a thoughtful post...