More poems

HOSPITAL

“Water, water, water,”

she repeated softly,

papery lips over bloated tongue.

The daughter stroked

her mother’s dry hands,

smoothed the matted, lifeless hair.

“You’re being given fluids, Mama,

we can’t give you anything by mouth.

Let me rub some lotion into your hands,

You’ll feel better.”

Her mother’s eyes

fluttered briefly,

opened to her daughter’s face,

“I want to go home.”

“I know you do.”

Her mother was anchored

to the bed

by tubes running

from her swollen body

to humming, clicking machines.

Her mother sighed

as her daughter stroked

and spoke softly

of everyday things:

the day of the week,

the weather,

who had come to see her.

Nurses came and left

at regular intervals,

checking machines,

making notes on charts,

smiling at the daughter.

Doctors came and left,

still dumbfounded

that outpatient surgery

a week ago had struck

this woman in some

silent, vulnerable place

and rendered her still

and helpless.

They struggled for reasons:

a weak link

in the chain they forged

with knives

under their masks.

The daughter longed

for a frame where she

could safely place this picture

of her mother;

this woman had caused her to be,

steered her on the path

to her own daughter

and the husband whose strength

held her calmly at this bedside.

She knew she would go home,

lie safe and warm,

listen to the breathing

of her family.

The tick of her bedside clock

would replace the clicking

of machines next to her mother.

She closed her eyes

and breathed the flat,

sterile air.

She imagined the sparkle

in her husband’s eyes,

the smell of her daughter’s hair.

SPRING

He left in March.

The pansies were dressed

in tender green and yellow.

I look skyward

to let the sun touch

my face

that will feel

no other kiss.

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