For My Hospital Primary Night Nurse During The Final Moments of My Life While Dying The Last Time
Is this it for you, Carey
—your career; statement to who you are;
—changing intravenous bags, bed pans,
sheets, pushing the dead onto morgue carts?
Does your aura surround the mattress
while it airs out?
Sense flashing January star bright points
squirting bleached galaxy
all over me!
Inner self drenched painless!
Steam gushes where there is no radiator,
bursts field cotton into cinemascope screen:
copper tea kettle squeals; 12-year-old girl
wearing vivid tangerine swim suit
skips through bleached-out periwinkle lawn sprinkler.
Hear self yell:
Will you grow up judging the suffering of others
by only your suffering?
A Barbie Doll pink and white two-wheeler
peddles across the screen.
I cannot tell if she is riding it.
Drugs, delirium, different time dimension, myth?
Going beyond my body
Joan of Arc embraces me,
Sensitive, suffering individuals know
there is no benefit hurting people
who sacrifice for you
Or was it you, Carey, holding my hand?
Relatives I hate from my past seem to be sitting
in art deco seats watching the screen.
It is frightening!
Each tortured me in unbelievable ways
when a child, then abandoned me.
Have confronted them.
No fear in changing the picture.
Forgotten frozen disc harrow
Shriveled crab and thorn apples
Crusted snow breaks hollow
Soon brave crocus, daffodils, forsythia
Do you understand this?
Does it have meaning in your life?
Can you imagine I am writing this to
save my life?
Was it then Saint Paul turned his face
to mine and whispered,
Intelligent people should know
the reality of illness
and act accordingly,
or was it the night janitor hugging the broom
protecting himself from the darkness
as he sweeps popcorn boxes and soda cups
away from the screen's front?
from In Pursuit Of Honor. Copyright © James Humphrey Trust.