the healing muse

Volume 13, 2013

Visiting Hours

      —for my sister and my mother

Kathleen Kramer

They cannot see what I see: sunlight falling through tall windows
to splash on a polished floor, wheelchairs placed here and there,

like metal sculptures—at once modern and medieval. And in these
chairs, seeming heaps of cloth, skeins of hair, bundles of bone.

Some sit alone, curled leaves burned by frost, waiting for the wind.
Others, like us, sit in clusters—complex family machines that mutter

and sigh, shifting loved ones to ease pain, disrupt the tyranny
of time. But my mother and sister can’t see these others, can’t see

that others can see them, that my sister’s nightdress has slipped
from her shoulder. There in her chrome wheelchair on the polished floor

my sister’s breast is exposed—bare and beautiful like a Greek statue,
whole and perfect on her broken body. But she would want to be covered.

So I bend to her and murmur. I cup her warm breast in my hand,
lift the shoulder of her gown, place her breast under the soft blue cloth.

Her eyes search but cannot find me. Yet her smile, brighter than sunlight
streaming through tall windows, bathes the room, bathes me.

Back to Volume 13, Table of Contents

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