Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

On the death of a hospital volunteer

Bonnie Salomon
Lake Forest, Illinois, United States


Golf course greens were not for you—too quiet. 

No cruise ships to sail—too boring. 

Retirement held no enchantment for you. 

Representation of the death of a hospital volunteer
Mask and pills alongside a coffee. Photo by Fawaz.tairou. Via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Instead, you chose us— 

—the motley ER crew—hardly noticed, 

 gliding through white coats and scrubs. 

“Just made fresh coffee,”—your calling card. 

How many cups after fifteen years? 

You were a presence. A week-end regular, 

as familiar as the monitors and walls. 

Until you were not, until we heard you passed, 

Until we made our own coffee, 

Then we noticed it was bitter, and you were gone. 

Too busy to regret, we forgot 

misery needs light. 

How else could we ever see?



BONNIE SALOMON, MD, is an emergency physician with Northwestern Medicine, and Health Systems Clinician with the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University. Her poetry and essays have appeared in numerous medical journals and newspapers, including The Lancet, the Chicago Tribune, and Annals of Internal Medicine.


Winter 2022 | Sections | Poetry

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