Keats on Holiday
The smoke salt air taught me how to breathe,
no more caustic stenches creeping in
under the doorway.
No more steam drains and gutters.
I felt a tumor blooming black on my tongue,
so I went to the ocean, warm depths, depths that speak clearly,
fizzing, splashing, effervescent –
it’s got to be good for something.
Old people retire to the beach and
soak their callouses and spend idle time
building bird houses.
Keats went to Italy to play in the sun
when his handkerchiefs started showing blood and bile.
Old people die, eventually.
So did Keats.
“Take a holiday, relax! You’ll feel better.”
The salt sea is washing up beer bottles
and fat women rub their children with lotions and oils,
while I think of Fanny Brawne
and poor old Severn whispers
soothingly in my ear.