Operating Room, Upper East Side, March 1945

Those wooden floors with their pine-scented antiseptic
and the argus-eyed lights in the gunmetal shadows
of the 59th Street Bridge. And there you are, a small boy

strapped to a gurney as the mask covers your face,
the sweet smell muffling your cries, two nurses in white
guiding you down some endless hall, the click of wheels

Advertisement

going round & round. And your younger brother tied
to the table beside you, still and unmoving, as if already
lost, and the ether takes hold and the body goes under.

The body unfolds & the music begins, much as a mother’s
musings, the missing mother who went off through
the locked door, whispering it’s all right, it’s all right,

my little ones, you’ll be fine, fine, just fine-O. And you listen
in the time you have left to the honeyed humming
in the spinning brain, the merest medley of song, so that

even the glint of that scalpel becomes part of the song now,
as the mother sings on, bending above you, bidding
her pretty ones to let go as she has and give over to sleep.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
MICHAEL TRUSCOTT
5 years 10 months ago

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A boy presents a hat to Pope Francis upon his arrival at the international airport in Trujillo, Peru, Jan. 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
“Just as the apostles faced the storm on the sea, you had to face the brunt of ‘El Niño costero.’”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 20, 2018
Pope Francis greets the crowd before celebrating Mass at the Maquehue Airport near Temuco, Chile, Jan. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
“Pope Francis’ statements...were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse,” Cardinal O’Malley said in a statement released Jan. 20.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 20, 2018
 Pope Francis and Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski stand outside the presidential palace in Lima, Peru, Jan.19.(CNS photo//Mariana Bazo, Reuters)
“The degradation of the environment...cannot be separated from the moral degradation of our communities.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 20, 2018
The U.S. bishops had an unusually busy year issuing positive and negative statements about the new president, but some hoped for more decisive action against his policies.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 19, 2018