Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rendering Rapture





Well that was the original title of this poem. I am not certain it fits, but I have not yet thought of one I like better. I have added St. Jude's story to a list of links for those of you who read that post a few days ago. And related to those events, I share with you the poem (published in the Auburn University Sunsource 1991) in which I attempted to describe a single moment. The photo was made a year before the surgery. My son was in PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) for three days after a 12 hour surgery on March 29, 1989 to remove a tumor located in the center of his head. His surgeon met with my husband and me immediately after the operation to explain what she had accomplished. When she finished, I folded her hands inside mine and and gave a prayer of thanks for for her gifts as a surgeon and her dedication to the children she served. She put her arms around me and said, "God is my co-pilot."
Today, I dedicate this poem to Dr. Patricia Aronin, who --along with her Co-pilot--made this moment possible.
True, I held you as a newborn and
marvelled at your hands and tiny fingers
curling 'round my thumb.
Through baby years and kindergarten tears
and many times over
you were in my arms.
But never, never, never had I held you...


Eyes swollen and bruised
Swelled out from white gauze
Swathed 'round your skull,
Your every vital organ attached
To monitor, catheter, EEG, IV.

Three days I watched the screens and fluids.
The needles and nurses came and went.
Your only words through week tears
And whispering, quivering mouth,
"I'm so unhappy."

A hospital is the singular, most inhospitable place
Especially in P I C U
Where tiny infants and young children
Are wheeled in, struggle, and sometimes die.
But beside your bed, amid the cold and sterile scene
A warmly varnished reminder
Of contented nursing during newborn nights:
A spacious, cradling rocking chair held me.

Hour after cavernous hour, I watched and rocked
And waited with arms useless,
Needing only your slender, little form
To come against my aching soul.

Stable. Making progress. Everything came off.
No tubes, no wires, nothing attached.
"Would you like me to hold you?"
Your heavy, bandaged head could just move
A determined, nodding "Yes."

I pushed my arms under your neck and body
Guiding every move with care and grace
Far beyond any ventured on the newborn you seven years before.
Careful. Careful. Caution upon caution,
For I was reclaiming the most priceless
Treasure I would ever touch.
As I gathered you into my embrace,
Every nerve and sinew in my being burst into
A rapture of the purest form.

And if I should live through all Eternity,
Never will there be such an unattended,
Permanently suspended moment
As when the rockers curved themselves against the world
And made us something holy.

Sunsource 1991

12 comments:

Maggie May said...

I have tears in my eyes and a complete, and total, and utter understanding of this:

' For I was reclaiming the most priceless
Treasure I would ever touch'

This is pure amazing poetry. I am speechless before the truth here, the love, the rendering of such an impossible happening.

Rowan said...

A beautiful poem that expresses all you must have felt.

Michael said...

Such a powerful poem, about probably the most powerful of all human emotions - Motherhood.
Thank you.

Derrick said...

Hello FireLight,

I can only echo the comments of those above. Such a beautiful, poignant poem of love.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Thank God for a Godly doctor; your poem is heart rendering.
first time visit and I'm glad I came...

Country Girl said...

No words can express the emotion I felt reading this poem. I am in awe.

FireLight said...

Thank you, dear readers.
Footnote: Tylenol was the only medication for pain...as if he had a cold.
I could not believe it, but it was standard procedure for young neurosurgery patients.

Maggie May said...

Yes this is wonderful, the tightly held together spacing of this poem. This is one of the most effectively poignant poems I've ever read.

Virginia said...

I am speechless and thankful that we found each other.
Hugs,
V

willow said...

Such a powerfully poignant piece, Firelight.

I love that the doctor told you God was her co-pilot.

Cait O'Connor said...

You have brought tears to me. This is a wonderful poem.

Aven said...

absolutely beautiful!!!

About Me

My photo
Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat