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.
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,
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.