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There is no silence like a hospital room at night.
This when the other six beds were empty and I
Was barely eleven, with an IV in my arm and
The soft light of the city through the louvered blinds,
The occasional truck vibration in the rain-washed streets,
The weak light in the polished hall, my nurse call button
Glowing like a single lidless eye, like a handless watch
Telling me that no one would come till dawn.
I longed to buzz a nurse just to hear a voice,
But was far too polite a kid to make any trouble.
Besides, I knew the night nurse was cold mortuary stone
And wouldn't come unless I rang for her, and then
Her voice would only hurt as when I told her of
The plastic model tugboat my dad might bring me,
And she, "It'll have to be disinfected and will melt."
I had lain in that bed for over two weeks,
Seeing only eyes surrounded by white cloth;
They explained to me that one more disease
Coupled to my four would be one too many.
So I lay very still, because I was very weak,
Hating the dull ache of the IV needle in my vein.
But there was something lovely in that silence.
Even now I feel the surrender of my frail body
Under the clean white cotton, listening to the
Tiniest sounds as a conductor to his orchestra.
I tried not to move, not to swallow, not to breathe.
A place where aloneness is a friend, a gust of rain
Blown against the thermopane, a violin solo.
Thirst and Consequences © 2002 by Eric Green
Published by Doctor True House Press
All rights reserved.