By: Cristina DeSouza
Night goes high,
filled with gentle moaning,
the calmness of death approaching.
Her eyes semi-shut, while reality’s by my side.
I examine the body whose soul is
getting ready to leave it: cold
and tender, it’s about to shed its suffering away.
Cancer swallowed everything,
Every organ, all the tissues, much hope.
Grace remained by her side,
Soft nurses’ hands tending to her,
As if she were a baby.
But she is a baby, a spirit
ready to depart, but as fragile
as a neonate. Her almost corpse
emaciated, her long fine fingers
immobile on the sheet. All she
wants is peace.
The nurse whispers stories
as if to calm her anxiety.
She thinks about all her things
soon to be left behind. She thinks
about her meager family,
absent at this very moment. She thinks
she was born in solitude and
will depart the same way.
Pain, she feels no longer.
Instead, the warm fuzzy feeling
of the last morphine injection.
Her thoughts race no more.
She is in dreamy land and can’t
know for sure if she has already left
her body or if it is all her imagination.
The nurse adjusts her pillow, as
if the comfort provided by white sheets
was able to offer her a few
more instants of life.
It Can’t, it won’t.
The night progresses slowly into dawn.
Few sunrays shine low
in the horizon all lavender.
She opens her eyes widely
for one last time, as if to
absorb the beauty of the morning.
Everything is so silent,
as if in goodbye prayer.
However, I can hear her
very breathing, exhaling
streaks of the life she still
contains in herself.
Instead of death rattle,
I hear a quiet and delicate breath,
slowly vanishing. Her eyes now
closed softly for the last time
while I sense her absent pulse,
her chest no longer rising,
the paleness of her skin.
She died with the sun crowning,
and birds chirping in the early day.
To me, one more death, but
a gracious one. Death always makes
me wonder the point of everything.
But her just departed life makes me
think that there may be a reason…
Pondering that, I pronounce her dead,
and leave the room to meet the morning outside.
You’re the sun, brightening the sky.
I’m the waning moon, God’s nail floating in the dark.
You sprawl over the East,
I dive into the West.
Meet we barely do, but we briefly touch at twilight
before I blacken the night, or at dawn prior
to your goldening the horizon.
You’re yellow and I’m indigo. You’re yang
and I’m yin, pieces of a puzzle solved only
if put together, but together we can
never be. Other than at dawn and twilight,
we can meld when ominous skies darken the sun
and gray the night. The rain falls and a rainbow
fractions our colors in many more.
We complete life, being together only momentarily.
Time, the only glue between us, grace and gift of nature.
Links of a chain, a cycle of light and darkness,
we can’t tell who comes first. We won’t
exist without each other. Living continuously, we blend
and the universe comes full circle,
breaking the spell of detachment and joining us,
parts of the whole, leaving only Blue to involve Earth.
Train of Thought
A cat walking in the dark
A baby rocked by her mother
A sailboat in the distance
White clouds, blue sky
My eyes slowly opening
Night darkening the light.
Every day I imagine patients in their white
hospital beds, as morning dawns
waiting for me, lost between
my stethoscope and reflex hammer.
Once I was eager to listen to people’s hearts,
it felt sacred and nurtured my spirit. It brought
color and verve to my life. Now it is sameness
like the stethoscope I take everywhere.
People deconstructed into hearts, pacing regular-
or irregularly, as I distribute myself amid the
half dozen patients in my ward.
The stars in my mind cannot erase
the anguish I see in there,
in those patients’ hearts, in my inner self.
It’s a warm Spring almost Summer day
with humidity climbing the window glass,
making breath marks that penetrate
the fractures of the old wood frame.
Early morning and I tap lungs, tap
silence, tap faith, while I undress hope.
Between diagnosis and
true prognosis, I progress into my day till
the sun makes noon in the sky. I have no
appetite for food, words or ideas and
all that is left for me is my stethoscope
I carry wherever I go, as if it were a
lifesaver vest. I walk in a white outfit but am
black inside, advancing through the hours,
through to the day till twilight, when both the
sun and I dive into the horizon all lavender.
A new morning approaches, shining its light
on my stethoscope and on my dreary soul
I return to the hospital, to sick people
navigating daily and dully every dawn,
every bluer sky, every hopeless heart: my heart!
While air travels my patients’ lungs,
I imagine sunflowers moving in the wind: I smile
at this thought, in awe. As I realize the bitter also comes
with the sweet, I take the predictable with the surprise
and accepting both finally brings me peace.
Cristina DeSouza is a poet and physician whose poetry work has appeared in several journals both in the US and in Brazil. In the US: Raw Journal of Arts, Edify, Healing Muse, Rigorous, Sheila-Na-Gig to cite a few. In Brazil: Mallamargens, Macondo, Vidraguas to cite a few. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing/ Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and in 2019 had a collection of poems titled “The Grammar of Senses” published by Main Street Rag.
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