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?