In 2008 our 6-year-old daughter contracted bacterial tracheitis, went into septic shock, and spent a week in the pediatric ICU. Thankfully, she recovered. When she was safely back at home I wrote a few poems about the experience. I would have given anything to trade places with that helpless little girl as she endured her illness, but I could not. I could only watch her and bear the insignificant burden of my own thoughts about her ordeal. After it was over, these poems are part of the way I responded.
A stolid rectangle, one
Of many planes catching
Dawn askance, reflects
On the waking world.
I’ve seen this face for years;
Now I’ve been its eyes. I
Appreciate all-night stillness
Behind the pane, depth of shadow
From which a parent stares
At lighted or darkened paths
Where strident walkers don’t look
Back, others walk and cannot
See ahead without knowing
How the world looks at dawn
Through a serene window
Whose face hides my reflection.
February 19, 2008
Who Can Help
It is a question we must resolve.
Relatives, friends, strangers: offers
Rush in like water, like streams,
With no idea how great a void
They might be asked to fill.
And still people offer. We consider
What must be done now, force ourselves
To think what must be done later,
Decide who to ask, and how, and hesitate
In a manner altogether foreign to water,
Which welcomes all input, rises from
The contribution of small streams,
Fills every emptiness, its surface level,
Mind calm, knowing who can help.
February 22, 2008