Tuesday, July 14, 2020

the stigmata of waiting

i sit where i have been
sitting for the last 2 weeks

in the ICU
visitor's chair, a hard & unyielding stone

you are on the hospital bed
pricked, tubes on your veins, only your lips
are silently moving in prayer

a nurse breezes in, with pills & monitor 
& I lift my head to see
if some flicking light has changed your eyes
or your limbs moved /heartbeat/

but you are so still
broken doll
as if all the words & winds in your lungs have left
as if your spine is soft clay
as your pale hands clutches a rosary
& gold banner of faith, a gift from a friend  

a reminder that the sun is pelting sunshine
outside of this curtained sterile room
i keep watch
... of nothing really ...
just keeping time until our mom comes back
from the bank & grocery shopping  

i eat 
my doubts inwardly
because I know you have been weeping
& ranting about the last month of your confinement

there is heavy sound
at the pit of my belly, wailing
of anguish, crying of missed diagnoses,
seeds of hopelessness grow despite my words

of encouragement to you
we both know that every day is folding fast
into shadows, frightening to utter:
road of no return
i pray for mercy
unthinkable ending & begin-
ning, in whatever form this may be

(i am sorry
i have to leave soon)

mom arrives, carrying 
your pain & sacrifices
so proudly, she is light you turn to
every time death 
checks in at night

February 2018.   This poem has been in my draft but I finally finished and published this for our 8th anniversary celebration.  A sad story but after 1 month of my sister's death in April, my first grandson was born.  Life goes on.

Posted for dVerse Poetics, 8th anniversary celebration with our special guest host, Brian Miller at 3pm EST.   He tells us to capture a moment in our verse.   

Happy anniversary!!!  Thank you for your visit and comments.


  1. What a hard moment u capture. One of the hardest of my life was watching my MIL pass. I was unable to speak, unable to console my wife and unable even to give words to prayer... Only moans...

    I eat my doubts inwardly... Is probably my favorite line. I relate. I was hoping for mercy in the moment as well.

    Nice tension and emotional release in the parenthesis lines. It gave me room to breathe.

    1. Thank you Brian for your comment and visit. This was hard to write down but its been pending for some time. I know you will understand that ask for mercy in the moment.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss, Grace. So much grief has poured into this heart-breaking moment of a poem. Such a fitting comparison of visitor’s chair with ‘a hard & unyielding stone’, and I admire the delicate way you have handled the description of your sister:
    ‘as if all the words & winds in your lungs have left
    as if your spine is soft clay’
    and your mother:
    ‘… carrying
    your pain & sacrifices
    so proudly, she is light you turn to
    every time death
    checks in at night’.

    1. Thanks so much Kim. Appreciate your kindness.

  3. This is such a hard moment, I do remember when your sister died and I cannot imagine how hard it must be. That waiting where you know that the end is coming. I sat with my mother believing she would die... but she managed that time, only to die a few weeks later when I was back home again.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss, Grace. There is so much ache and grief in this beautiful poem. This particular image; "
    i eat my doubts inwardly," is palpable and strong.

  5. So exquisitely presented are your pain and loss, Grace. When my father passed those of us present went from his room to the nursery to see the new babies and remind ourselves of the cycle of life. I thought of that when you mentioned the birth of your grandson. Indeed, life goes on, and we hold lost dear ones in special memory.

  6. Condolences to you, Grace, on the loss of your sister. The poem waiting in your folder until ready to share says so much. The helplessness and the grief of a mother watching one of her children pass on is difficult to take in.

  7. Oh this is so painful to read... I can only imagine how painful it was to write. Good you let it out. I am sorry for your loss.

  8. Grace, I'm so sorry for your loss. This is such a powerful and painful poem. Perhaps your sister's light will be present in your grandchild.

  9. A heartbreaking loss that you incarnate with such subtlty and grace! I'm sorry for your loss.

  10. Oh Grace, I am so sorry to hear this. I didnt know. You capture it as clearly as i remember it - the hard chair, the vigil, the unuttered words. I love that your mom was the light your sister turned to, the way moms are. So strong. And i am so glad your grandson arrived so soon, to bring hope and new life to cherish.

  11. So sorry for the death of your mother...Death is so difficult when it involves waiting for the end to come. You have grabbed our hearts with your anguish! Well done.

  12. I could be wrong, but I'm convinced that we remember sorrow and loss in stronger detail than any happiness, that is often a blur of mingled emotions. This is heavy and inevitable. You pull no punches.

  13. Heartbreaking and beautiful in the detail of death. My heart goes out to you Grace.

  14. Thank you for sharing this moment with us, there is a bareness that I can sense like the scraping of the soul, the pain of bearing witness to this end...Much Love, J

  15. Oh, how hard it must be to craft a poem as this. But pain crafts the boldest statements and brings the soul to surface. And birth both softens and hardens the grave. Thank you for your courage!

  16. This is so heartbreaking Grace, for you, your mum and all the family and so difficult to put into words. My heart goes out to you all xxx

  17. An homage that is both touching and heart rending that captures surreal moments in time. Sorry to hear of your loss. Take care.

  18. This is so heartfelt. I am most struck by "I keep watch . . . of nothing really . . ." Anyone who has been with a severely ill patient in ICU or CICU knows this feeling. You stare. You watch. The machines beep and show waves. You stare at the patient. You keep watch . . of nothing really. I am so struck by this....all the while praying, bargaining.
    And I am most struck by your statement after the poem....life goes on. We are all born to die. Oh but it is so hard at the leaving. As you can tell by my reply....I have crawled inside your poem here....


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