Fletcher Allen Hospital: In the Heart Wing
We wander floor to floor, idle guests
invisible to doctors and nurses
because we do not gasp or bleed.
For fun I dare you to fall
on the polished floor, gasp and bleed.
In the chaos, a ghost,
my father rapping
on my bedroom door
interrupting a pajama party séance.
pretending to be a dead man.
Though there are plenty of prompts available for my NaPoWriMo pleasure, this year, as it has happened for the past two springs, my father is in the hospital. Two years ago around this time, he spent nearly a month in the hospital and even longer recovering from aneuryism surgery. That’s when I began the “Hospital Diaries.” This year, it is his heart and his lungs, and though I didn’t expect them, the poems have been coming.
Be the Air You Want to Breathe, and Other Foolish Holidays (working title)
Sitting on the side of your bed, trying to breathe
you say, “It’s good to see you.” I see your chest
shudder (trapped moths) beneath your white undershirt.
for both of us. I see your hair is not combed (spider webs).
tendrils of smoke from a neighbor’s chimney.
I see your empty water bottle, tissues like white mice on the floor.
Each time they ask, I breathe
for your lungs–twin beggars.
I see a host of gold ladybugs flank your watery blue
eyes, or is that the patina of lived long enough?
having looked into them or not quite at the pair
for so many years it is hard to see what is new
what is old. Only the painter hired to rip cabbage
roses from the front bedroom sees the peeling paper,
only the roofer shimmying past flaking slate sees the holes
beneath the tar paper—the rest of us too busy mopping
rainwater, trying to remember which one tried to fly
from the second story pitch with an umbrella in one hand.
I open the door as the stretcher breezes in and I see blue sky,
the tips of forsythia trying to take in enough resurrection
enough of what this day has to offer, to push their yellow
eyes past shelter’s thin shell
into oxygen’s invisible embrace.
Pay no attention to that man in the chair
his horse is parked in the garage
rusted shoes nailed to the roof
for good luck. Good luck swinging
the old cowboy up and out of recline–
surgeon’s dusty trail having sliced the wind
right from John Wayne. He’ll grunt and moan
before he draws that pistol.
No need to be frightened.
Little lady, this is a movie
the blue sky is a painting
the shallow breathing is a soundtrack.
Stuff those jitters in your bonnet and learn your lines.
After a brief hiatus, wherein the mother/poet ferried the children to the mountain for some
rain fun, the poet/mother has 5 mornings to herself, wherein she will continue on her quest to write scintillating poems about superheroes (or pop culture heroes in chaps).