Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

To Nurse – Hospital Halls – Breath – and more

Carol Battaglia
Chicago, Illinois


To nurse

Hospital halls

To Care
To Solace
To Touch
To Feel
To Hurt
To Need
To Heal, others
as well as ourselves.
I have walked these hospital halls
for many years now. Thousands of
steps, thousands of words, it’s no
wonder I’m tired. Talked out.
The emotions of others swirl around
me. Some happy, some relief, some
burdened with grief. Sometimes I
turn a corner and lose myself,
sometimes I turn a corner and find
myself. You just never know.


The Plight of Nursing

I have felt the breath of newborns
sweep softly across my face, and
stood in wonder at the sweetness of
new life.
I have felt the breath of those in
pain, and stood startled as it crashed
jaggedly, hurtfully across my face.
Marking me in its strife.
I have felt the breath of someone
dying, air pulling and tugging at my
face as if trying to capture some of
my life for its own. And I stood
defeated, resigned, and helpless.
Unable to harness its dying force,
unable to stem its flow, I sensed its
final futility and reverently let it go.
I am the “Lady with
the Lamp.”
A stranger moving in
and out of your world
shadow-likeI brush the edges of your fear,
leaving some of
myself behindSometimes at the
end of my
shift, I cannot
account for all of me.I retrace my steps,
in hopes of putting
myself back together


If I have found an outlet
for my moroseness it is
in the healing vehicle of
the poem.
Where feelings of child and woman
are announced across
the page and the lines
often reveal more of
myself than I would
normally care to know.
The wish to tell my story–
if only to myself is
granted over and over again
by the curing rhythm of
the poem.




CAROL BATTAGLIA was born and raised in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. She recently retired from Loyola Medical Center after practicing nursing there for 30 years. She is the author of 3 books, and has been described as a minimalist who writes with a Haiku rhythm. She is currently completing a book of spiritual poems.



Carol would like to acknowledge, with gratitude, the encouragement and support she has received over the years from Mary Ann McDermott, professor emeritus at Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago.


Highlighted in Frontispiece Summer 2009- Volume 1, Issue 4
Summer 2009  |  Sections  |  Nursing

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