Monday, December 12, 2011

On a sudden and serious illness

in the hospital bed, you lie
your face a folded white petal
creased and pale,
the blue veins marked clearly beneath.

you want to drink, but your belly
a temporarily broken vessel
will not accept the water.
again and again you shake and heave
and I, who thought to pack fresh clothes for you
end up drenched, as you cling to me, crying, afraid
and empty your stomach down my neck.

(I spend the rest of the day in a hospital gown, provided by kindly nurses
and confusing to doctors, who come to question and poke at you, and then wonder
if I am mother, or wandering patient, as I hold you in my arms.)

you, who seem so robust to me in the everyday
so strong, so lovely
now stare at me with filmed eyes
your body at once a weight on me and curiously light
your skin soft and dry, feeling permeable
terribly so
as if a harsh wind could blow it to dust

and I am, out of all proportion, fearful of this thing
an illness, a virus, no more, yet
in a different time or different place
quite apt to steal the life of a person
a person so small
so young, so tender
as you.
my beloved child
my somehow-suddenly-fragile child

and I do not think I could bear it. People do,
they do if they must, I know. my mother did. my grandmother.
in other times and other places
people must bear this again and again
and endure the scoring of the heart
again and again

please, little love.
be well again.

- Kathy, 12/12/11


  1. You spoke to my gut.
    I hope everything is ok.

  2. Kathy you brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart. am praising the Lord she is on the road to recovery after seeing her yesterday. saying a lil prayer for all those mothers who are going through the very thing we dread.