Staying

Inspired by the poem, The Gift, by Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm

my father recited a story in a low voice.

I watched his lovely face and not the blade.

Before the story ended, he’d removed

the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

Staying

By River

To stand and watch pieces of my mother’s forehead lifted up to stitch back on -– the doctor finding the big patch of

translucent skin, frail and bloody —

I breathed. Slow deep breaths.

I’m the kind who faints at blood or injections

But I stayed and told Mom she’d be okay over and over

Even though I didn’t know that.

I do recall holding her hands and

Every five minutes, the blood pressure machine squeezing, beeping…

I smoothed her icy fingers.

I looked into the blankets

To shield myself from her screams.

Had I been someone else

I would have waited outside,

Claiming low blood pressure fainting,

But compassion

Kept me there.

Her eyes so lonely, her grip so afraid

Her face a bruised bloody mess.

I can be compassionate

When I am simply nailed to the floor

And breathing steadies me.

Now I gently touch her brow

Mom, who is glad for coffee, has forgotten that stay in the ER Trauma Ward.

I fluff up her pillows

Help her sit up as I hand her the thermos.

Am I a loyal child? 

More true, I’m sensitive.

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