The present arrived at Christmas,
Bound with bow,
A white ribbon tied just so,
Caressing the slender tome
Of Emily Dickinson poems.
Carefully, I undid it,
Teased the knot free,
Tossed it to the
Back of the bookshelf,
Out of sight,
Out of mind.
Months later I searched
For a sash to bind up
A bouquet of white roses,
A gift for the grandmother
Of a 10-year-old boy now dead.
The white ribbon lay
Exactly as I had left it.
Gently, I wrapped the roses,
Bound with the tie that binds,
Placed the bouquet
In the grandmother’s arms,
Where it rested like a newborn
Now fast asleep.
Later, I let the gift giver know
I had recycled the bow,
Passed the tie on to the next in need.
When my text came through,
They were steeped in
Multiple trauma cases in the ED:
A motor vehicle accident victim;
Two gun shot wounds, both children.
“Your anodyne arrived when most needed,”
We hand each other along in life
Until the circle completes itself,
And we recognize the ribbon
For what it has become.
There she sits, fully clothed, on the examination table. She’s tall and lithe with long straight hair, high cheekbones, and slender fingers. I introduce myself, smile, and offer her my hand. It’s all she can do to flash a fleeting smile back. more»
Interested readers can now access my latest Art of Medicine column — Our daughters, ourselves — recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
Please note that all of my previously published Art of Medicine pieces can now be accessed here.
New puppy pounces on tossed toy,
trots it back,
paws pounding on wooden floor;
mouths, chews, searches for squeak;
dashes behind sofa—
head protrudes below skirting,
disappears, darts out,
gnaws the wooden foot;
onto the white pillow at my wife’s feet;
tracks the single strand of yarn
dancing to the crochet baton above;
attacks ball in basket and sprints,
paws thumping on rug;
in a woolen mesh.
The eve of Valentine’s Day he died,
Hours before the mad rush for roses began.
We learned of his death this morning—
When the belated e-mail arrived.
Red roses for beloveds,
Yellow for friends,
Lavender for mothers,
White for the departed.
I bought a red rose for my wife,
A burnt rose for my daughter,
A white rose for the little boy.
Years before I had inscribed him
A copy of Maggie Brown’s “Runaway Bunny”
And left it with his grandmother.
(The author, to demonstrate
Her robust surgical recovery,
Leapt out of bed,
Gave a Can-Can kick in the air,
Threw a pulmonary embolus
And promptly died in Nice.
No one expected her untimely death at forty-two;
We knew the boy was dying at nine.)
Our new puppy fetches
The old toy again and again;
Silently, we eat a hot meal
To ward off the wintry chill.
In fading sunlight
The white rose
Sheds its petals,
One by one.