Tag Archives: hospitals

Life Support

Tempting to ask
what were you thinking
out there on the open road
without a helmet

but everyone already knows
the answer to questions like that

and if we who ask
want the correct answer
instead of the right answer
it might be a good idea

to rewind the tape
and watch your life in reverse

and it does no good now
for your family to tell you how sorry they are
that they didn’t let you live in peace
with the one you loved

because they didn’t understand
that love could transcend gender

or that love could stretch and bend
only so far before it turned into
something reckless
and worth dying for.

 

DeMaris Gaunt
3-17-15

Heart Surgeon Wanted

Constantly they fail—
those fist-sized lumps of tissue
that pound on and on for decades,
untrained to do anything
but keep the beat
while the body that surrounds them
begins to contemplate its limits.

And unlike oil changers or burger flippers
there isn’t help for the heart on every corner.
No drop-off or drive-through service
for the transplant or triple bypass.

The heart surgeon has a heart of his own—
enormous and brave,
fueling his skilled hands
as they cut open the hearts of others
that have decided to slow down or call it quits.
He answers prayers more reliably than god.

Wherever he goes
he is praised and envied,
except for home—
where guilt is an unexpected byproduct
of an education so complete
he’s beholden to it.

Years ago, when he gave his heart away
to that beautiful girl who said yes,
he couldn’t have imagined how many times
he’d need to apologize
for saving a life—
for missing birthday parties and airplanes
that would have sent him up to pierce the air
like a needle that might have stitched
together those thick layers of his absence.

How epic it is— the fragile and enduring heart.
Even when it’s working properly, it’s a pitiful thing.
Usually, the only thing wrong is how needy it is—
how much it wants,
how much it just can’t bear.
How little it takes
to break it.

DeMaris Gaunt
4-30-13

Inflation

It starts in your lungs.
Those two cages of breath
unwilling to unlock the door
for any entrance or escape
of air or comfort or ease.
So I sit on the bed beside you
plugging you in to a face mask
and tubes which coax open
those stubborn balloons
with the help of a vapor
squeezed from a vile.
Your friends next door
and across the street have
taken the bus to school
where they will learn about
numbers and our strange language
which has no word for the
kind of daily prolonged fear
that some mothers have
of their children dying
in hospital beds or outside
in the parking lot having
underestimated the speed
at which a small body might
deflate if the mother, say,
takes too long in the bathroom
or runs downstairs to refill her mug.
We are prisoners in different cells,
you and I.  Yours collapses
and mine inflates with every breath
you struggle to take.
This time it ends well
in a hospital bed where it only took
a few hours to correct the numbers
on the screen – those vital signs
that say it’s okay for you to go home
and take it easy until next time,
which we can bet will happen soon,
and then, if you are lucky enough
to grow up into a world
that has improved its
inadequate lexicon
to include a word for
the prolonged daily fear of mothers,
then you’ll understand
how relieved I’ll be when you call
in the middle of a future night, in tears,
and tell me it’s only your heart
that’s broken.

DeMaris Gaunt
12-6-14

Speed Limit

Going the speed limit
it takes ten minutes
to get to the hospital
and in the car
with you on my lap
it felt like twenty
and the simple directions
on the side of the Epi-Pen
were written in English
which might as well
have been another language
as foreign as the doctor
who saw in my eyes
the universal fear
that transcends words
when a child is in peril
this time
after eating a peanut butter cookie
camouflaged in white chocolate
as thick as the conversation
at the Christmas party
where your father and I
were the only ones
who didn’t believe in god
and when we took you home
hours later
we put you to bed
and lay awake talking
about how grateful we were
to all those people who worked
to save your life
with all that
accumulated information
in their brains
and those inventions and machines
that took years to develop
and test
and then your father sighed deeply
before turning out the light
and said into the darkness
how amazed he was
that we got to the hospital
in three minutes.
Miracle, I said
and he agreed.

 

 

DeMaris
12-24-13