May 21, 2024

The poetry of organ donation

National Transplant Week 2013 is drawing to a close in the United Kingdom — here is a video and a poem.

National Transplant Week 2013 is drawing to a close in the United Kingdom. The video above gives a few conversation starters from “some of the UK’s best known communicators” to show people how easy it is to let family members know that they want to be an organ donor.

Starring in the short video are actors David Harewood and Wil Johnson, TV presenter Kay Burley, and celebrity businessman Sir Richard Branson.

A contribution from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is rather  gnomic, perhaps not quite what the organisers were thinking of when they requested poetry. But opportunities for publishing poetry come very seldom on BioEdge, so here it is:

Host Organism

I have been living
under the layers
of grain and moisture,
earth in my nostrils
and the years ahead
sitting like hard
pebbles in my gut,
and the hands that get
to sift the slack
grit, while I sleep
fearfully through hours
of gardening labours,
pull themselves clear
and scrape nails clean
so that I feel the pricking
of green points that seek pathways and waking
and tomorrow’s work,
pushing out of the seed
dropped by some unnamed bird.

Williams glosses the poem on a website about organ donation:

“I began with two basic pictures: something being implanted and something breaking through what feels like stasis or deadlock. So the natural point of convergence was the idea of a seed dropped, anonymously, disturbing the heaviness of the soil – the heaviness of what you have come to expect, what you have unhappily got used to. A future that begins in the dark, with surgeons as gardeners; and the hardness, the discomfort of welcoming a new life that bristles and stirs painfully inside. But essentially it’s a poem about hope, and about the sort of providential accident of one life being planted in another and making new things possible.”

Michael Cook
Creative commons
organ donation