Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The ED Sonnets: Rooms 12 and 13

Room 12

He’s kindly, white-haired, greets me with a smile,
seems healthy. “Yes, I’m waiting to go home.
I had some trouble breathing for a while,
but now I’m fine. I like your job. That’s some-
thing I did, too, for years. I’m old, you know:
a hundred years last month.” “I wouldn’t guess
a day past seventy!” He laughs. “Just so!
My calling kept me young, the work of bless-
ing people, loving them and God. But you
do that. You know.” “I’m just a volunteer.”
“That doesn’t matter! So was Jesus. Do
you love the work?” I nod. “And did I hear
a code?” I nod. “He died. But anyway —”
“My dear.” He reaches for my hand. “Let’s pray.”


Room 13

We have no thirteenth room; some patients might
fear even more misfortune. Being here’s
bad luck aplenty, other numbers fright-
ening enough: pulse in the stratosphere,
high pressure, fever, labs mysterious
to all but the anointed, hieroglyphs
revealing failing organs, boisterous
infections, tumors. There are always ifs
in medicine, along with ands and buts;
it’s art as much as science. But the scopes
and scans seem final, certain. Surgeons’ cuts
are unequivocal, whatever hopes
their findings raise. With fear so overfed,
we don’t make room for superstitious dread.

1 comment:

  1. I'm no poet, but these are good.

    I'm going to check out the previous sonnets.


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