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A Small Plum

by Jacqui Whittingham 

Posted: 21 July 2008
Word Count: 144
Summary: This poem was actually written several years ago, when a close friend was very ill with a brain tumour. Sadly we lost him 5 years ago this week, which made em feel it was time to rework this a little and let it see the light of day. The title was invoked by somebody describing his tumour as being " about the size of a small plum". I'm still uncomfortable about the last stanza in particular and wonder if some of it is a bit too sentimental?

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Whatís going on inside your head
Oh, I canít even guess
But I can sense your pain, your fear,
Of losses yet to come

Each day must be a milestone
Amid a blur of pain
Exhaustion must make you hide
From each new days birth

The darkest shade of night
Is when things are always worst
Youíre so alone, yet you feel it there
Like a plum within your skull

If I could, Iíd reach inside
And pluck it as it grows
Iíd tear it out and mash it dead
And heal the hole with tears

But I can only sit and watch
While you shrink and burn
Those around you yearn and reach
But cannot touch your pain

And there is no other way
But wait and see and watch
As the life we know and care for
is supplanted by a tree

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Comments by other Members

FelixBenson at 12:33 on 25 July 2008  Report this post
Hi Jacquie

This is very effective is demonstrating the fear and the anger that this awful experience presents.
I think writing always helps. The experience of reading this is very immediate, and the final lines tremendously sad.

As the life we know and care for
is supplanted by a tree

Best, Kirsty

Jacqui Whittingham at 17:58 on 25 July 2008  Report this post
Hi Kirsty
You're quite right,I was so angry at feeling so helpless and unable to change things.
Thanks for your comment on the last section - it was the main part I reworked and the ending was desperately sad. Much of my writing has been for cathartic purposes and I guess that's why it's usually dark and depressive - must try and write something for the sheer joy of it!

FelixBenson at 12:48 on 26 July 2008  Report this post
Hi Jacquie,
I know what you mean ;-)
Sometimes it seems to me that the drive to write comes from the darker things .. I guess there is more to say about the difficult stuff and it is the exploring that makes it cathartic. We are all here just getting stuff of our chests I suppose! Certainly helps me.
I look forward to reading your next one anyway.
Best, Kirsty

Tina at 09:55 on 27 July 2008  Report this post
Hi Jacquie

I can relate to the need to write to 'get things out of your head' as this is what started me off writing a while ago now - when we write like this it is the expelling of the subject matter which is important the need to shout it out and externalise the feelings which you have done very well here. I think some of the verses work better for you than others but I guess you are more interested in the whole message.
So sorry about your friend
More soon?

Jacqui Whittingham at 10:32 on 27 July 2008  Report this post
Hi Tina & Kirsty
It's great to know I'm not the only one using this type of therapy! I guess I knew that anyway - thanks to you both for your support and encouragement.

Kirsty, I know what you mean about some verses - I think I am starting to accept the last verse but I guess for me the whole thing just gets stronger at the end of the third verse, when my anger and powerlessness starts to really show but then fades away to a weak acceptance at the end. I feel the second verse is the one in particular that adds least to the whole thing. Is that what you meant?

Thanks again, all this really helps me consider what I'm doing and I hope will help me to write more poetry that is more approachable and really connects with the reader.


ellynelly at 10:45 on 25 September 2008  Report this post
Dear Jacqui,

This is a very genuine and heart-felt poem.

Just a thought, but maybe if the title was "The Size of a Small Plum" then the reader would get both the medical and the figurative aspects.

It must be a term the surgeons use a lot. Years ago, I also had something removed "the size of a plum" (not malignant), and the words certainly stayed in my mind.

I was also wondering how the poem might look without capitalization at the beginning of lines; I think that might go along well with your minimal use of punctuation.



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