A Medal for the Lady

by Kristina Woodhill

she is a pin up
of a sort
now, that's for sure
there's a centerfolding
staple through her tales
as she paints her
pains so graphically
one wonders at
her sighs
and I squirm a bit
each time she
tells her gains
with soft sad eyes

I just keep wondering
I do keep wondering

if I should be
supplying something
gold with purple flair
a medal to be
pinned in place
for scars' faint
shadows there
the protocol of
what she needs
from me
is just not clear
to say “oh, my,
how truly sad!” or
should I stand
and cheer?

and, oh, the pain of it
and, oh, the gain of it

there's an oddness
and intensity
that halos her regales
her gnarling hands
like stiffened
branchlets wave
they point to twitching
eyes and touch her head
with its demands
they clench the bottled
pain relievers
beacons through her haze

she so surprises me
to claim her agony

yet I, who set pain's table
once or twice before myself
and chewed its
ground up glassy
course with teeth
that pierced raw flesh
and felt pain's grinding
rubbing hands
in places long since
remember what pain's
lesson in my heart
and mind revealed

the cold sweat bathes me still
I felt no martyred thrill

this game she plays
with pain may have
a purpose braver still
as she holds it close
and strokes its
claws of steel
perhaps it will grow
weary if she speaks
its name at will
then loose its grip
retract its talons

I'd take those talons, carve with care
engrave all her lost beauty there
and make a pure white medal for the lady


Author's Note: Pain is the great revealer of our inner depths.

Posted on 09/29/2007
Copyright © 2020 Kristina Woodhill

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Elizabeth Shaw on 09/29/07 at 07:46 PM

an endearing rendition of a difficult subject. Bravo

Posted by Gregory O'Neill on 09/30/07 at 06:35 AM

Wonderfully written verse, Kristina. Brave and frightening at once. Maybe we can only hold as much joy as the pain and suffering that we've had carved out of us. My potd selection. Thanks.

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 09/30/07 at 12:03 PM

A somber, sobbering, profound look at pain! It surely challenges the very best in the psyche! (Though I've not known long, enduring pain I've known enough to know I DON'T LIKE IT!) Excellent writing.

Posted by Mara Meade on 09/30/07 at 09:29 PM

Profound and strong. You didn't turn away from her as she experienced it, didn't brush it away, didn't negate or try to gloss it over. "Beauty," not just tragedy, comes from such as this.

Posted by Rhiannon Jones on 09/30/07 at 10:10 PM

Brava! Beautifully written and of my very favorites.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 10/01/07 at 01:58 PM

This borders on "epic" in my books. Impressive assemblage of words to express an inspiration. Also thanks again for your comment on my latest Kris. :o)

Posted by Charlie Morgan on 10/01/07 at 04:42 PM

...kristina, this is delightfully described, yet sad in that pain hurts...but i agree that it is therapeutic...and like the buddhists say: life is pain ...good write kristina, peace, charlie

Posted by Joe Cramer on 10/02/07 at 02:01 PM


Posted by Philip F De Pinto on 10/03/07 at 12:14 PM

it never ceases to amaze what can be done with words. and these are no exception. they are wonderfully composed for the sake that we might feel them. and speaking for myself, I do. indeed!

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 10/04/07 at 03:21 PM

Oh, holy art. . .the unexpected always comes finssing up and setting itself full face when you write. Here you have closed the distance, once again.

Posted by David Hill on 10/23/07 at 11:40 PM

I like the way the narrator is puzzling over the subjects pain; how it is displayed and what, if any thing, does the subject want or need. I like that you draw no clear conclusion. As Atticus Finch said, You cant really know a person until you walk a mile in his shoes. I like your own pains table. You write with wisdom.

Posted by Nancy Ames on 01/27/08 at 08:02 PM

I wanted to see some of your writing too, Kristina, and I do think this poem is very well done, very perceptive, and full of the irony that happens when some tragedy is seized upon by the media, for example, implying that the injured person is so very lucky to be on TV, as if that is a reality that is elevated beyond the ordinary.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 07/04/08 at 12:18 PM

Great to read this again and even better to see it as POTD Kris. Congrats!

Posted by Dave Fitzgerald on 07/04/08 at 08:42 PM

Great write Kristina, congrats on POTD

Posted by Michelle Angelini on 07/04/08 at 10:06 PM

Kristina, congratulations on POTD! Your poem expresses one person's need met by another. Actually each need is met - the one in pain needing the encouragement and the one helping to lift up the one in pain.

Posted by James Zealy on 08/28/09 at 04:47 AM

Chronic pain is a test indeed isn't? If you haven't lived you can't understand it, but this sure comes close.

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