The daffodil is recognised internationally as the symbol of hope for all people affected by cancer. Cancer Council chose it as our emblem as the bright yellow colouring heralds the return of spring, representing new life and growth.
To Cancer Council, and those affected by cancer, the daffodil represents hope for a cancer free future.daffodilday.com.au
Cancer has been in my thoughts a lot since my cousin, Dave Sheehan, died of lung cancer earlier this year (it is always in my thoughts to some extent because I work as a cancer nurse), and it is probably because of Dave’s death that the titles of a number of poems by Philip Hodgins caught my eye when I was browsing the Australian Poetry Library recently:
Room 1 Ward 10 West 12/11/83
Room 3 Ward 10 West 17/11/83
Room 1 Ward 10 West 23/11/83
Here, if you can bear it, is the one of Hodgins poems that really got to me:
There was no joy in leaving. Nothing was resolved.
Blood and bone were shot and death had shown
a way with words beyond the usual sophistry.
Wounded by prognosis I had brought people together
and encouraged conversation. It didn’t help.
The right debates were held alone each night
After the chatter of the last drug trolley down
the polished corridor. It was impossible to match
death’s vocabulary. I gave up and got ready to go.
No amount of speachmaking could reassemble
those disparate friends or justify all that fuss.
On the steps I felt the hospital’s immensity
behind me. I thought of how this blood, this
volition would bring me back here to die
in stages of bitterness and regret. I turned around.
The doors are open.Philip Hodgins
“… the hospital’s immensity behind me.”
Blunt, three or four word sentences, as brief as lines from a haiku, but with no images from life in them: no birds; no sun or rain; no daffodils.
The abrupt change of tense at the end.
The Australian Poetry Library says that Hodgins was born in Katandra West, near Shepparton, in January 1959, and died in Maryborough, in August 1995, of chronic myeloid leukaemia. Among his poems there are some about farming; and few about AFL football; and quite a lot, like those mentioned above, that are based on his experiences with cancer …
… but, those of us with kids can’t allow ourselves to wallow in such thoughts too long. It was the first day of spring. The sun was out. I tied a green hanky across my nose and mouth (COVID restrictions) and set off to supervise with my 10 year old son Wes, and his best friend Beth, as they walked to Footscray Park and back for exercise.
Footpaths, and front gardens, bike-paths, the banks of the Maribynong, and Footscray Park were full of people enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.
Neatly mown lawn -
push through. 🌵
About Daffodil Day, daffodilday.com.au
Australian Poetry Library, https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/hodgins-philip