Voices in Humanism


Mother, I walked into your room
in the geriatric wing, disrupting a scene
between you and the doctor.

The prop was your hospital bed.
He sat on the edge of it, worried that you wouldn’t eat,
spoon-feeding you oatmeal.

The window was solid sun.

You’d had a fall, a head wound,
a minor heart attack, another.

The day before, a nurse washed bloody clumps,
a few strands at a time, from your hair.

Your monitor was a television
broadcasting poorly plotted yet compelling shows.

Technicians hidden in clouds hung haloes
on you, the doctor, the nurse, not me—
only those playing leading roles.

I was an extra with a small speaking part.
“Are you on a diet?” I got to ask.
“Something like that,” you said.

How I laughed at your Vicodin vision
of a dog in the room across the hall
sitting up, reading the newspaper!

Rock-a-bye Baby played on the intercom
with each live birth, counterpoints
to the crescendo of my grief.

Previously published in Literary Imagination

Charlene Fix, Emeritus Professor
Columbus College of Art and Design
Hospital Poets, OSU College of Medicine