In Sickness and Health

Jarman, Mark

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Terry, James
  • Date of entry: Jan-29-1997


In a short 28 lines, Jarman captures the hothouse images of a bout of fever and the dreariness of an urban apartment where he recuperates under the care of his spouse. He can feel the way that, as he gets better, his wife's emotions unravel. She has suppressed her hatred of the apartment and the city--and perhaps, of his requirements of her as a nurse, despite the title's reference to marriage vows. As she cries, Jarman addresses himself in conclusion: "You have married the patient wait for exhaustion."


It is easy to forget that many illnesses never reach hospitals or the care of strangers. Family members--and especially female family members--attend the sick in most non-life-threatening situations. But care at home by family members has its problems.

In this poem, Jarman's illness cannot be separated from the tensions of his marriage, his poverty, or the ugliness of his surroundings. The burden of caring for him folds into the larger context of a set of continuing burdens his wife must bear. Thus, getting well does not help much in this brief, dour vignette.

Primary Source


Place Published

Santa Cruz, Calif.


Vol. 43, October 197