Sunday, August 29, 2010

Intensive Care

The patients here are silent. Their machines
Speak for them, in rhythmic beeps and colored lines,
And numbers--lots of numbers. Which one means
He is getting better? Or worse? What are the signs
We should attend to? I choose to watch the heart
Monitor; for now, it is holding steady, if fast.
They've chilled his blood, in hopes his brain will start
To heal itself, but now two days have passed;
It's time to warm him up. We hope for the best
And wait, and watch the numbers, and pace, and cry.
The doctor's face confirms--we've failed this test.
There is no doubt; my brother soon will die.
We know, today, his heart will slow and stop,
And as we watch... the numbers start to drop.

This was intended (still is, I suppose) to be just one of a series of sonnets, observations from the hospital. The different populations within the hospital were fascinating to watch, even in such horrible circumstances as we were in. The families of patients, both new and long-term; the doctors and nurses--"heroic" does not come close; the new parents; the cops and paramedics bringing in the victims of accidents and shootings; the janitorial staff, who appear to have seen everything all too often; the clergy, impotence masquerading as importance.

But, perhaps understandably, these are not easy things to write. I'm not a poet; I'm a commenter in verse. It is the exception, rather than the rule, when I write about something that touches me personally. Hell, I could make the argument that the restriction of verse is just another way of distancing myself from a topic. It has to rhyme, after all

Anyway. I'm not happy with it, but here it is, for now. I plan to revisit (in verse, that is) this hospital, but I couldn't begin to say when that will be.


Clare said...

I know I'm a stranger but blogs seem to create a semblance of acquaintance. I know that I can't say anything meaningful or helpful but I just wanted to offer my condolences.

Cuttlefish said...

Thank you, Clare.

And for the record, your comment is both meaningful and helpful.

#1 Dinosaur said...

Tiniest creative critique:

The doctor's face confirms -- he's failed this test.

You didn't fail anything. Neither did your brother, technically, but I recognize the need for "test" to rhyme with "best", and its pass/fail connotation. I just couldn't stand to see you blame yourself even a little bit, even metaphorically, even in rhyme.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cuttlefish (and Cuttlekin),
I'm an ex-nurse, and I've lost dear ones, so all I wanted to say is - a beautiful sonnet for a beautiful soul; my thoughts are with you, and please accept this hug from a stranger who is a friend. *hug*

Cuttlefish said...

#1 Dino--

This was one of the few verses I actually did a first draft of, in actual ink on actual dead tree. The first draft did say "he", but that did not feel right. We were all in it--the doctors and nurses, my brother, my family. We all were in it together (let's face it, had he lived, the reports would have spoken of his "struggle", or how he "clung to life" and "refused to die", and all of those would be inappropriate for someone who was basically just lying there), and so I changed it to "we".

I do take your point, and assure you that we all know that there is no "blame" to be found here. It was a freak incident, where everybody did their absolute best to save him, nobody did the wrong thing, and he still died. These things happen.

Morriganscrow--thank you, and I *always* accept hugs. BTW, I saw your poems when I submitted this one at the whatchamacallit contest, and they are beautiful.

SUIRAUQA said...

TDC Sir, I have earlier commented, both here and at Pharyngula, how your poems touch the core of my heart and mind. This was no exception; I was moved to tears. I was immensely touched by your earlier post on this sorrowful event and blogged about it. Please allow me to offer my heartfelt condolences - again - to you and your beautiful family.

Anna O'Connell said...

I have watched friends and family in the ICU. My mother was a nurse in such a unit. Condolences on the loss of your brother, and I would argue that you are indeed a poet; a person who transforms life (with all it's joys and pains) into art.

Thank you for sharing with us and condolences on your loss.

Pigbristles said...

"Shared pain is lessened"

I share your sorrow, Cuttlefish & Cuttlekin.

Cuttlefish said...

I see, on the Facebook page, that there are people who are trying to comment here, but who cannot. I honestly have no idea why that might be the case; last time I checked, I had commenting open to all, and I know there have even been some anonymous commenters. If anyone knows the reason, feel free to let me know and I will fix anything I am able to.

In the meanwhile, Claudia and Ron, I thank you for your kindness.

Cuttlefish said...

I did not mean to leave out, in my thanks, Pigbristles, Anna, and Suirauqa. Again, thank you for your words.

D. C. said...

"only a commenter in verse."

Pardon me while I call bullshit. I know you're not fishing, so don't make excuses: it's yours, it's you, and please give us credit for accepting you (and your expressions of yourself) as you are.

Which, speaking for myself, is a very good thing indeed.

Condolences. I know it's never easy, and worse for the young ones.

Cuttlefish said...

Hey, D.C. (nice initials!)

I'll take your compliment as intended, but there is no shame at all in being someone who writes verse instead of poetry. I know my favorite poets, and I would never ever put myself in their league... but frankly, they can't write verse for shit, most of them. There are precious few that I would say can do both (in current writing, that is), and I have no problem admitting that I am not one of those.

But thanks, and thank you for your condolences.

Thomas Atkinson said...

Death sucks. If I were the intelligent designer of the universe, I could have come up with a better system. My condolences on your loss, Cuttlefish. And thank you for making something beautiful for all of us who've experienced that kind of loss -- or will.