Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

O Child! My Child!

Alice Ranjan
Redmond, Washington, USA

Winged woman flying and carrying infants over the countryside
A woman personifying night carries two babies over the land, representing sleep and death. Etching by F. Bartolozzi, 1764, after Annibale Carracci. Wellcome Collection. Public domain.

O Child! My Child!
Enter did you, into this world,
incarnadine and warm.
But when I held you in my arms,
you did not shriek or love or scorn.
Nay, you took the path
from mother’s blood
to River Styx
in evanescent breath.
How I wish you could have stayed with me
to see the world beyond.

You will not see the kittens play
or daffodils in the sun.
Melodies will not caress your ears,
nor will berries burst upon your tongue.
O Child! My Child!
You will not know
the sweetness of romance
or the joy and love that sprung from me
when I sang to you and danced.

But child, my child,
at least you will not know
the torment of the soul.
You will not feel
the deluge of tears,
the pangs of unrequited love.
Nor will you be
unmoored from hope,
adrift in the world alone.

O Child! My Child!
You must spread your wings,
soar to distant lands
since unfettered you are now.
Savor your bliss and innocence
and come visit me again.

ALICE RANJAN is a graduate of the University of Washington-Seattle, where she received a B.S. in Microbiology, B.S. in Molecular/Cellular/Developmental Biology, and a minor in English. During her time there, she served as a founding member and editor-in-chief of Capillaries Journal, a publication that includes written and art works on health, illness, and healing, as well as academic pieces on public/global health issues. She has also worked as a cancer research fellow at the National Institutes of Health and aspires to combine medicine, clinical research, and the arts in her future career.

Fall 2022



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