Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Blessed is the heart

Jeanne Bryner
Newton Falls, Ohio, United States


Study of standing chute. Dominik Skutecký. 1880-1900. Slovak National Gallery. Image Source

Peacemaker inside the great barn

father of us all, he passes the meat

plate, its thick roast to the left

his fork last in line.

Bless his bulbous nose, ruddy face

and bloodshot eyes, his slur of words

over time. This living space offers

no remote, not one easy chair.

The smallest guy in the loft

and blind, he works every crimson shift.

The mine field’s chaplain

he lifts the wounded, no job

shuffling in the abbey. No monastic

bells, he gets us up, keeps us going.

Rises after our staggering falls

as though nothing’s happened.

There’s a time to be sick

and a time to be well. Vespers

then tamp the sludge and straw.

Strain and both his temples throb

mercy given again and again

as he hurls himself over the bombs.





JEANNE BRYNER, RN, BA, CEN (rtd), was born in Appalachia. A graduate of Trumbull Memorial Hospital School of Nursing and the Honors College of Kent State University, she’s a retired board certified emergency room nurse with several books in print. Her work has been adapted for the stage, performed nationally and in Scotland for the 2004 Fringe Festival. Recently she co-edited Learning to Heal: Reflections on Nursing School in Poetry and Prose with Cortney Davis. This anthology received the Tillie Olsen Award for creative writing from the Working Class Studies Association and first place in the 2019 Book of the Year Award from the American Journal of Nursing for creative works. She has received writing fellowships from Bucknell University, the Ohio Arts Council and Vermont Studio Center. She teaches writing workshops in schools, universities, cancer support groups, and assisted living facilities. She lives with her husband near a dairy farm in Ohio.



Spring 2020  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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