272. On Her Own

Lay pallid on her forearms.
Louise arched her neck back,
Shook her hair.

Everything must run through,
Like a river–
All her mind
A channel,
Swift to flow–
Riah’s thoughts, and hers,
To pass clean through–

Must be so
At sickbed, no distraction,
Louise knew.
She shut her eyes,
And let the moments pass.
The close, familiar taste
Of mortal sickness
Melted on her tongue,
She breathed afresh.

The howling wind whose
Din had made her flinch,
She must force it
To ebb from her ears.
She banished it,
And willed an easy hush.
A quiet hum
Ran through:
Her head was clear.

She looked down at Riah.
That face, dim-lit
As a marble saint in church,
Louise must look upon
With a new light, freed
Of the weight of how
Loved, how near death–
This face must not
Speak of peril,
But of paleness,
And a need for blood,
And breath….
Louise, steady, stared.

Reaching for her patient’s pulse,
She felt: already,
I can think like her.
I know that her mind would see
Machines: ill-fitting
Bearings, hinges out of joint,
Valves out of time, and
Gears that miss, lock
Tight, don’t spin….

Louise wrung a rag
For Riah’s forehead.
As her fingers smoothed
The cloth, she watched them
Move: rapid,
Canny, they would play
On Riah’s body, measuring and
Skimming, pressing, gauging,
Perfect in mechanics,
Function, feel….

Louise herself must
Tap into vocation, each word
Spoken or unspoken, she must
Hear–Riah’s every
Impulse must be safe received.
She, Louise, must be the sure
Connection, with no
Selfishness, no
Self to block the way.

Must flow
Clean. She touched
The chest whose rise and
Fall was close to
Must pour through.
Like a river,
It must run….

2 Responses to “272. On Her Own”

  1. Kaki Warner Says:

    WOW! It just gets better and better! Can’t wait for the next installment.

  2. sshaver Says:

    Hi Kaki,

    That “wow” jumpstarts my day. Will respond tonight on Welcome Page. See you there.

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