Poetry - Hektoen International

O Child! My Child!

Alice Ranjan Redmond, Washington, USA   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 […]

To my colleagues in Ukraine whom I saw on TV

Barry Meisenberg Baltimore, Maryland, United States   Limestone fragments of the “Vulture Stele” now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France. A stele is a stone pillar erected as a monument to some great event. This stele was created circa 2500 BC to celebrate the victory of King Eannatum of Lagash over Ush, king of Umma. […]

The grieving one: on the death of a spouse

Paul Rousseau Charleston, South Carolina, United States   “A real experience of death isolates one absolutely. The bereaved cannot communicate with the unbereaved.” – Iris Murdoch, An Accidental Man, 1971   ‘Alone’ holds the word ‘one.’ Photo by Javier Ocampo Zuluaga on Pixabay. After the death of a spouse, we are al(one). ____ One pillow […]

Bone headdress

Susan Sample Salt Lake City, Utah, United States After artwork created by a person with cancer   Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses. Painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1931. Art Institute of Chicago. No known restrictions on publication. Why tens of bones linked with silver chain into an earthly veil? I gaze at other entries: hand-stitched quilts […]

Villanelle

Jolene Won Chicago, Illinois, United States   Photo by Sandy Torchon on Pexels. I did not know today would be your last – we see no end for those that we hold dear. If I had known I’d not have let it pass. The nurse who knows she can’t set down her tasks continues on, […]

Battle of six feet

Mark Mosley Wichita, Kansas, United States   Sleep (w/CPAP). Artwork by Howard J on Flickr, October 19, 2020. CC BY-NC 2.0. They die alone now; jet pilots soaring solo upward muffled voices sucked into machines speaking a language we recognize but too distant to quite understand until their plastic faces harden and eyes glaze over […]

Metastatic sarcoma

Tulsi Patel Chicago, Illinois, United States   His big regret was never building his son a trampoline, now locked away in the shed like some treasure chest he can’t open. Eyes welling up, he says to me proudly, resignedly “16 tumors” before he coughs up a river of rotten red roses. A Foot Bridge, North […]

Happy hypoxia

Khyati Gupta Mumbai, India Scots Mission Hospital, Tiberias (Torrance). Hospital beds. Photo. Matson Collection, c. 1934-39. Library of Congress. Via Wikimedia. Public domain.   Poet’s statement: Happy hypoxia is a poem I wrote while trying to capture the thoughts of a patient in solitude infected with coronavirus amidst the second wave of the pandemic.   […]

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.  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 […]

Flesh on flesh

Paul Rousseau Charleston, South Carolina, United States Holding hands. Photo by Jclk8888 on Pixabay. Via Wikimedia. Public domain.   There is a solace to flesh on flesh,   a laying on of the hands, a ritual of caring,  but now, in our distant worlds,  we hide in pixeled foxholes,  tap, tap, tapping on computers, tablets, and […]