Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Emergency Room

We were there five hours. She ate her crackers and cheese. I ate her baby carrots and apple slices. Before her first nap, I spooned five bites of pudding into her mouth. Then I begged coffee from a yawning nurse.... Where was I living when I died? she asked somewhere beside the old clothesline I’d resurrected in her mind — 1965, our sheets baking beneath a harsh blue sky.... Is Mother still alive? bright petals falling from my hand, one for her father, one for mine, one for each dead sister.... By the time transport arrived, she was covered by flowers.... Two strong men, suitably kind. A warm blanket from the dispensary. Things are going to be fine, Mom, just fine. Good-bye? Across how many years? How many acres of cold, blind linoleum? They turned at the corridor. She went home. I was alone again.

(first publication)

“Emergency Room” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: tossed out through the saloon doors.


ALeks said...

I must cry when I read this,so beautiful and familiar,I hate to think it is from real life moment?
Is it a Good-bye?

William Michaelian said...

Yes, this happened two days ago. But it is only a good-bye, not the good-bye — although sometimes it’s hard to know the difference. Mom is okay. Another bump in the road. Thank you, dear Aleksandra.

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

people saying that everything happens has a meaning,
but there are too many things in life that I can not find a sense.
This is the hardest test in a man's/woman's life

Noxalio said...


the subject and tone
of this piece
is very moving;

at the same time
it is wonderfully
lyrical. i will revisit
it many times.

i sincerely
hope all's well.


Gerry Boyd said...

Beautifully rendered.

RUDHI - Chance said...

Sounds surrealistic to me, like a dream!

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Laura. I’m inclined to agree. It is we who insist on meaning — which, of course, is something I find meaningful....

Noxy, so far so good. Your comment is appreciated at every level.

Gerry: you have my thanks.

Rudhi, it felt that way to me too!

Paul L. Martin said...

William, I felt my heart stop when I read this, thinking that the inevitable happened. I looked for the Annandale Dream Gazette tag hoping it was a nightmare. However, after reviewing the comments, I am happy she is still with us and you.

Some of the most surreal events have happened for me on hospital visits, so I recognize that aura in your entry. The way you sort of fragment the narrative is very effective; it leaves us a little off balance. Nicely done, William.

ALeks said...

I can't help it,had to come again,to check my reaction and Im weeping now,this comes so close to me that I can not breath free,with that "How many acres of cold,blind linoleum?"- ...........
it is hard to know the difference,each time I say goodbye to my parents (and I have not seen them now for 4 years)I die a little.
It is the power of your words which makes me let go a bit but Im scared.Will I ever see them again.Thank you!Take care dear William.

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Paul. The fact is, I wanted — I had — to write something, before I could proceed with the day. I’ve experienced so many strange, surreal scenes with my mother that pretty much the whole time we were at the hospital, I felt like I was reliving some past event. At the same time, there was the need to make something of it, too, as a piece of writing, and this was the approach that suggested itself.

Aleksandra, I’m so glad you came back. I know exactly what you mean. And of course these things are entirely out of our hands. That doesn’t make it easier, but still, I think it’s part of what makes living such a good thing.