I don’t usually post my poems on this blog, but wrote this one last night, as the title suggests, and felt I might as well put it out there. I am quite sure that not everyone understands, or even considers, the terrible stress and anxiety that our healthcare workers are under. There are heroes among us, and they don’t wear capes.
Written at Four A.M.
– for Lisa, 3/29/20
My wife cannot sleep these nights.
She lies blanketed in worry,
rueing her sleeplessness and tasks
undone, so much still to be done,
and afraid of what’s to come:
hospital beds in cluttered corridors,
patients sharing ventilators, alone
and clawing for air and surcease;
the fear in everyone’s eyes; the nurse’s
front desk, so often a font of crude
jokes and late-night laughter, now
red-rimmed and fraught. Awakened,
I rouse and speak: it only annoys her,
so I rub Lisa’s back in night’s full dark,
resort to an old trick, and pick up
a bedside book of poems, Philip Larkin’s
The Less Deceived, to read aloud.
It never fails. My good wife listens and
only half-hears, the words washing over
her in waves, undulant images, a mind
open like a drawer of knives, a hometown
recalled, a horse troubled by flies. Finally
I reach the last poem, read it twice
as I often do. Lay down the book,
the reading glasses, fumble with
the light. It rains outside our window,
a soft pattering urgency, dawn’s chorus
still two hours from us, if it comes
at all. But listen: at last she sleeps. I yawn,
thinking of poems and hospital beds,
My wife, Lisa, is a midwife at Albany Obstetrics & Gynecology. Her work often finds her in the maternity ward of St. Peter’s Hospital. She’s also recently created a Facebook page, Reproductive Health at Home, which you can follow in these days when access to healthcare is challenging. These are hard times, and very scary for many. I write children’s books, a far less perilous venture. In support of teachers and parents as they scramble to provide online learning for young readers, I’ve created a variety of free videos for ages 3-14. You may access them at my Youtube channel. Just stomp on this link and it’ll bring you there.
Be smart, stay home, protect the vulnerable.