Poem: Children’s Ward, Mass General

Children’s Ward, Mass General

Rope of light, hand over hand, returns.
Spiralling down the tunnel of sodium penathol rising into hard daylight,
and sitting straight up, music of moans, the glass shield, the ‘johnny’ and the draft
of hospital air across my body, carved, and carving across the sweet desert of spring, blood surging health in the flowers. Soft golden triangle of pubic hair shaved to avoid infection grows back stronger, darker–  where is my glow I sometimes had?

I hear the child crying   through the night   through the day
something strong and urgent beyond my waving self–
why hasn’t anyone come? I see her night cries shaping the shadows overhead
as I lie on my back and blue flags spiral through the wall.
She sends them high on the wind of her ragged breath.
She has a power like the wind but no direction.
Why is she here and why is she entering my room like this?
I can’t rise to see her directly but I dream her and I ask who she is and where she came from.  I can’t hold the answer from the dream but I hold her
all day in my intravenous arms, quiet by my side.

When I can walk, I go next door to visit and see a baby in two leg casts, bulbs
that don’t move but stick straight out.  I want to take away the flag of dread
I feel planted in her room.  There wasn’t much I could say to the nurse
who let me in, except thanks.  I stood silently and tried growing hope inside
and making it big enough for both of us. I thought she needed alot.
I cut through and asked for help.
I didn’t ask, I thundered.
The nurses said I was in a real mood.

When her cries came swimming overhead again, her turtle shadow,
I knew the rain would come, I could smell it, and her wounds too were sealing up.
She already knew how to float and I could see that her bandages
would come off in the grinding salt waves of her own life.
This was something I could believe in.

© Copyright 2024 Beatrix Gates