Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Two More ED Sonnets

Here are the next two. There are many moments in any given shift that have no obvious connection with faith or spirituality at all, and this pair of sonnets describes two visits like that. The faith connection comes in my own struggle to be loving and nonjudgmental (which, as here, often doesn't work).

For anyone just coming in, the first four poems are here.


Hall Bed 5

I’m on it; this one’s mine. They’re in the hall,
which means the rooms are full. As I approach
I hear the mother hissing, “After all
I’ve done for you!” A fine time for reproach.
“I wish I’d never had you!” Charming, Mom.
Her suit drips wealth. The daughter smiles at me,
chides gently, “Mom, that’s mean.” Is she this calm
at home? And where the hell’s security?
I introduce myself. “Ma’am, you’re upset,
but this won’t help. Perhaps you need to go
and cool off in the waiting room?” I get
a glare, crossed arms. “I won’t!” She quiets, though.
The girl, wrists bleeding, says, “It’s nice of you
to visit.” Who’s the saner of these two?


Room 8

The doctor comes; I leave. A patient waves
me down across the hall. “Why can’t you throw
her out? I wouldn’t want a dog to go
through that! Poor kid! The way that mom behaves,
she shouldn’t have a child! The woman’s nuts!”
So much for HIPAA. “Listen, I agree,
but I don’t have that much authority;
I’m just a volunteer.” I gently shut
the door. “That’s hard to hear when you’re in pain
yourself. I’m sorry.” “Oh, I’m fine. It’s just
a boil. I hope the girl will be all right.”
“I hope so too,” I say, but don’t explain
the three-day psych hold, which in this case must
seem like vacation. Was the cutting flight?


  1. "Charming, mom." made me laugh a little bit, in rueful recognition. It can be a real struggle to manifest a loving, nonjudgmental face of God when you really want to chew somebody out. *wry grin*

  2. Thank you! Thank you! These are lovely. Oh! That mother. Talk of recognition. It is a source of great thankfulness that both Mom and I are less crazy than we used to be.

  3. All of your sonnets are incredibly powerful - it's like being there with you in the pain, worry, fear, anger, and hope.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Anonymous6:48 AM

    Keep writing. I know they seem rough to you, imperfect approximations; but from here, they're amazing flashes of light.


  5. P. S. I used to tell my students that there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers, but will perhaps violate that. What does ED stand for?

  6. Sorry about that, Martin! "ED" stands for "emergency department," and is the term medical folks tend to use instead of "ER."

    Glad you enjoyed the poems!


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