Organic (after hip replacement)

The body has its own wisdom.
It need not be told
how or when
to ease itself whole.


Trust, and it surprises:
unasked, it rises from the bed
or on its own stirs toward a step
once feared might never happen.
Tightening to rebalance,
muscle is free of panic.


After long days of swelling,
a dip forms into an ankle,
a lump sculpts to a knee.
Loosened flakes of skin
unveil flesh regrowing.


Pain has diminished, unnoticed.
No need to think to know
it’s body heals the spirit,
not the other way round.

Questions and Answers

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

Hip replacement surgery was a revelation. What a marvel the body is in the way it can recover from such a major intrusion on flesh and bone. From being wounded and weak, months later it walks pain free and strong again. In writing “Organic”, my challenge was how to make the heroic body itself convey the miraculous healing process, not an anxious first-person “I”. Short lines and dividing the poem into strophes I felt were in keeping with the idea of a measured progression toward health. Sound in a poem is another important tool. I relied on the harmoniousness of assonance (“told”/“whole”; “bed”/“step”/; “happen”/“balance”/“panic”; “know”/“sound”) to underscore the calmness of the body’s advance toward normal. As the final two lines suggest, in this instance mind is not over matter, but quite the reverse.





A University of Toronto graduate, Susan Ioannou has published numerous literary articles, short stories, two children’s novels, several poetry collections, and the non-fiction study A Magical Clockwork: The Art of Writing the Poem (Wordwrights Canada). Some of her poems have been translated into Dutch and Hindi, and others set to music, performed in Canada and Norway. For many years she led creative writing workshops for the Toronto Board of Education, University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and Ryerson University Literary Society, was Associate Editor of Cross-Canada Writers’ Magazine, and ran the online course Lessons in Writing the Poem. Susan’s current focus is her own creative work. Besides chapbooks, her poetry collections include Clarity Between Clouds (Goose Lane Editions), Where the Light Waits (Ekstasis Editions), Coming Home: An Old Love Story (Leaf Press), Looking Through Stone: Poems About the Earth (Your Scrivener Press), Looking for Light (Hidden Brook Press / Opal Editions), and The Dance Between: Poems About Women (Opal Editions). Several of her print titles have also been reissued in eBook and paperback formats. Her full Literary CV is online at

This poem “Organic (after hip replacement)” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 247 (2021): 127.

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