Saturday, November 15, 2014

You are a Person

image

***

You are not an individual,
rugged or otherwise.
You are a person
connected to people,
living or dead,
it does not matter.
Love is everywhere
present and fills all things.
Of this, and only this
can you be certain.
Set it as a judge
over your thoughts
and actions.  Do they
pass the test of love?

***

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Empty Shelves

Empty Shelves

***
The shelves of his mind
had been emptied of memories
and no amount of rummaging
could change that.
All that was left
was the action itself,
pacing those empty rows,
rubbing his hands
over the dust that was left.
He heard voices,
warm tones meant to reassure him.
"Remember me?  It's so and so,"
cruel in their strange familiarity.
Where is this place?
Who are these people?
The shelves lie bare,
leaving him scared and alone.
***

Friday, October 24, 2014

When I'm Lost




***
When I'm lost
I don't always
know that I'm lost

but sometimes I do

like a butterfly
hovering overhead
self-seeing
feeling pity for
my waywardness
memories fluttering
to moments of a
peace-filled existence
that was lost
due to lack of diligence
a waning watchfulness
supplanted by a
pride-filled nothingness

but even so

when I'm lost
it is a grace
to know that
I am lost
and gain hope
in the waiting
for myself
to come home.
***

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Life is Beautiful



***
Life is beautiful
always and ever,
though poorly perceived
through the dirty lens
that overlies the
eye of the soul.
A pure heart
apprehends it fully,
which means it is
something I must
simply accept on faith,
catching glimpses
through my children
who have yet to
become so sullied
by the demands
of a life-defying
culture that fosters
self-centered insatiety
as an ill-conceived norm.
I see myself as
someone who makes
capricious attempts
at capturing
it through art
and creativity,
but above all
through love,
however feeble.
***

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Doctor



They rolled her into the Emergency Room looking like Sleeping Beauty-on-a-stretcher, her long blond hair framing a pale face, unmoving, unresponsive, signs of trauma conspicuously missing. She appeared to be in her mid teens, eyes closed, and wearing a dress which in and of itself was an unusual sight in the ER. A physical exam, labs and imaging of her head had turned up nothing. The ER physician on duty appreciated the challenge of a good medical mystery, but he also knew when his job was done and a more extensive workup was needed. This zebra hunt would have to continue up on the medical floor. He took a moment to appreciate the oddness of this particular presentation, run through a differential in his head one last time, and then sign the order to have the patient transferred to the medical service. She was wheeled out of the ER as serenely as she had entered.

***

The hospitalist who had accepted the patient stared at the computer screen, frustrated that there were no red flags flying in the margins to alert him to what was wrong. The physical exam had been equally unhelpful and the hope of catching something the ER physician had missed was starting to peter out.  He scratched at his beard and fiddled with his coffee cup that sported the message "crazy days and Mondays always get me down."  The lush alto of Karen Carpenter began crooning in his head and proved to be a helpful trigger. It sparked thoughts of anorexia and then mental illness in general which led him to the realization that this was a job for a psychiatrist.

He grabbed her chart and wrote an order for a Behavioral Health consult, "Rule out catatonia." The consult was marked "urgent," but that was a bit of a cheat. She was breathing normally and her vitals were stable. It was urgent in the sense that doctors fear the unknown and the consequences that can come from missing something. It should have been obvious from the get-go, but psychiatric problems are not something that many medical professionals are comfortable with or consider except as a last resort.  A medical reason that could put the patient's life at risk if not identified had to be pursued and ruled out first and foremost.

The hospitalist placed the chart in the New Orders slot for the unit clerk to enter into the computer. He did so with a sense of relief that other minds would be brought to bear on the problem. This also allowed him to move on to see other patients who were starting to accumulate on his rounding list. The clerk snatched up the new orders and entered them into the computer. Her typed words were transformed into 1's and 0's and sent along strands of copper wire insulated by rubber tubing. In a quirk of cosmic necessity a 1 and a 0 traded places, diverting the request down an unknown pathway.

Within seconds of the clerk hitting the enter key, the elevator doors slid open and out stepped a peculiar fellow. No one paid particular attention to him as he made his way to the patient's room. The clerk assumed it was the consultant and was too busy to realize that the timing was not only not right, but impossible.

***

Alone with the patient, the doctor placed his hand gently on her forehead as if feeling for a fever. He looked out through the window and over the city, losing himself in an approaching bank of dark clouds. A jagged line of lightning flickered, mirroring the line of his brow. He drew in a deep breath and released it slowly as thunder rolled into and around the hospital.

He exited the room and headed down the hall to look for a particular door. He found it due to its out-of-place appearance. It was too old, too narrow, and with an outdated air vent in the bottom. The door and what lay behind it had somehow been overlooked in all of the updates that had modernized the hospital's interior. In a word, it had been forgotten. It was a bathroom and the interior was not much bigger than a closet. Pink tiles covered the walls and the floor was covered with smaller tiles of pink shadings.

He stood there for a moment staring at the wall, the side of his pant leg touching the lip of the commode. He traced patterns in the air without touching the tiles until he appeared satisfied.  Drawing in a deep breath, a sequence of squares was tapped in quick succession, the hidden pattern made visible by the faint glow of each tile touched. As he made contact with the last one the entire sequence flashed simultaneously and the room appeared to rotate out of itself taking the doctor along with it. He found himself on the opposite side of the wall in a mirror image of the old bathroom. The colors and quality of light were different, but not in a way that he could have explained to anyone not on that side.

He exited the bathroom and immediately perceived what appeared to be a translucent tube coming from his chest and terminating in a nurse standing nearby. As she turned and acknowledged him a flicker of colored light traversed the tube towards him. The doctor was pleased that he'd found the proper place to do his work and set off to return to the patient's room. He had to remember to turn left when before it was right and vice versa. Further complicating matters was a webwork of crisscrossing tubes that ran between people, lights pulsing and shifting through them like a neuronal matrix. This resulted in having to backtrack a time or two, but eventually he found the patient's room and shut the door behind him.

***

The tube connecting them was inert. He watched the rise and fall of her chest, bringing his own breathing into sync with hers. A pattering of rain drops hit the window. With each exhalation he sent a faint pink pulse through the tube towards the patient. This went on for several minutes without change until he noticed a hitch in the patient's breathing. Discordant pulses began to slowly course in the opposite direction of the pink ones. The tube thickened to accommodate the two way traffic.

The doctor began to sweat profusely as images and sensations began to come into his awareness. She was no longer in the hospital room. A trusted presence was standing too close to her and breathing too hard. Out of respect she had not moved away, pretending not to notice that something very dark was trying to envelope her mind even as her body desperately wanted to run and hide. She sensed the desire extending towards her like a ravenous beast that would destroy her for its own pleasure. She heard the familiar voice trying to soothe her, "It's OK. Don't be afraid." The doctor stood as an unseen witness to what was unfolding between this young girl and a much older man. When the man's hand made contact with her an internal switch was thrown, a fail-safe, and she crumpled to the floor.

The doctor stood with her in this dark place where she had sequestered herself. There was only blackness in all directions. He extended his hand in a pointing gesture and a bright spot appeared at his finger tip as his arm reached its full extension. It was a small point of light that continued to shine even as he lowered his arm back to his side. A twitch of her eyes under closed lids betrayed the fact she sensed the change. Her head slowly rotated towards the light and her limbs began to find themselves. In wobbly fits and starts she pulled herself up into a standing position and then began to sleep walk towards the light with her eyes still shut. It grew larger as she approached it. She was oblivious to the doctor's presence beside her. He did not interfere, but encouraged her nonetheless in ways that were available to him. When the circle of light had grown to a stable size she stepped through it with a slight duck of her head.

***

Her eyes opened and peered at the ceiling of her hospital room. She felt the warmth of the sun coming in through the window and she turned to see a blue sky with patchy clouds breaking up in the wind. The room was empty and she wondered how it was that she'd gotten here. Outside the room the clerk glanced up from her keyboard in time to see the elevator doors gliding shut on the doctor.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Floating Over a Dark Place



***

She is three years old,
a warm ball of roundedness
sleeping on our morning bed
in an expectant state of un-
wakeful perceptiveness.

I can't resist to kiss her shoulder.
She rolls over and fixes me
with dreamy eyes and a lost smile.
"That's how you float over
a dark place," she confides.

Was it the kiss as protective talisman
or something deeper in her burgeoning
experience of the world, where the
realness of a thing is not so concrete
as matter and linearity, cause or effect?

***