Thursday, March 4, 2010

University Hospital, Boston - March 4, 2010

The trees on the hospital lawn

are lush and thriving. They too

are getting the best of care,

like you, and the anonymous many....

...We sit on the lawn together, holding hands

while you tell me: you are better.

How many young men, I wonder

came here, wheeled on cots off the slow trains

from the read and hideous battlefields...

...and how many died

staring at the leaves of the trees...

...tell myself, you are better,

because my life without you would e

a place of parched and broken trees.

Later, walking the corridors down to the street,

I turn and step inside an empty room.

Yesterday someone was here with a gasping face.

Now the bed is made all new,

the machines have been rolled away. The silence

continues, deep and neutral,

as I stand there, loving you.

Poems Vultures and Ghosts in recent days linger in the battlefields of my mind that I pray surrenders to the unnatural divide between death and life. By embracing death, we can love ever the harder.

In my youth I knew not much of human love, or of death. Then I saw the movie, Gone With the Wind where Scarlet is overwhelmed in the Atlanta train stations where thousands of wounded and dying are laid around the tracks. There was my first glimpse of universal and massive human suffering. I saw it from the eyes of a southern raised, white privileged human, in fact, born in Atlanta. Some years later I saw the movie, Showboat, and the universal suffering extended out to those of African descent caught in the web of colonialist harm.

Always, always I connected to nonhuman suffering spending, most of my adult life in veterinary hospitals and field clinics. There, in hospitals, I find, human or non, we all are equal. In death we all are equal. In loving, we all are equal.

What do hospitals tell you of life and death? Of love?


  1. Many people begin and end life in a hospital. I think it is the in between times when one needs a hospital that are most important. With all of the recent technology there are so many procedures that can be done to not just extend a person's life, but to enhance it. For these I am very thankful.

    In a hospital love or the lack of it it very pronounced. Most care givers chose their profession to share their love with the patients. The ones who are there only as a job for money stand out immediately. Avoid them if you can.

    Family and friends can help the patient heal. If someone the patient loves is there only out of 'duty' or not there at all it can hinder the healing. Sometimes when the patient is absent from the day to day activities others realize they had been taking the patient's contributions and love for granted. Hopefully that relationship can be repaired.

  2. I appreciate your wisdom and experience, born of much time in hospitals. Presence is healing in ways we cannot even begin to fathom, and I thank you for this reminder.