Recovery Room

Matthews, William

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita
  • Date of entry: Mar-18-1996


The speaker in this poem provides a vivid portrayal of the recovery room experience from the perspective of an articulate patient. Where he had been warned about the room's brightness, he was unprepared for the keening woman in the adjacent bed and the "false and stark balm delivered to her crumpled ear" by the nurse. He and other "freshly filleted" and "drug-docile" visitors to this room wait in the anesthetized setting of otherness or in-between for release. The patient feels like a "diver serving time against the bends" or like one of eight piano keys parallely parked. While waiting for the return of sensation in his lower body, he imagines that he is like a "truculent champagne" loosening off "petulant bubbles," a few at a time.


Master poet Matthews demonstrates the value of the patient voice for describing what the illness experience is like.

Primary Source

Foreseeable Futures


Houghton Mifflin

Place Published

New York