emergency poem jo ann smithAll Poetry

Emergency [a poem]

By Jo Ann Smith | Featured Contributor


Never a place one wants to be
especially alone
my lifeline confined to the parking lot

in a hurry they weigh me
no time to remove shoes
extra layers glasses ring watch
annoyed, my weight will be inflated

I am wheeled to a small sterile room
dominated by a single bed
intimidating medical charts are
thumb tacked in random order to lime green walls
I eagerly respond to you so I can lie down

an air conditioner blows cold
my breath is labored and shallow
an invisible pressure on my chest
more terrifying than pain

blood pressure high
oxygen low chest tight
scar on my left breast placid,
but ever present

a masked nurse,
I can only see her eyes,
knocks, but does not wait for an answer
pushes a lab cart through the door

I tell her I’m a “tough stick”
and ask if she’s the ‘A Team’
she may have smiled, but she pokes a needle
and misses a vein three times –
once in my helpless, bloodless hand
before the A team arrives

blood finally flowing I ask for a blanket
and am told I’ve put the gown on backward
‘it should open in the back, that’s why you’re cold’
embarrassed I wonder if they flaunt this knowledge
as a trade-off for kindness

one leaves
another arrives pushing a different cart
complete with tv screen showing blue blips
and grainy green graphics
a re-run loop of my heart
the antenna stuck to pivotal parts of my chest
I think how convenient
to have the gown open at the front

more tests, some repeated
but mostly waiting
for another knock
that ignores an invitation

my mind keeps bargaining
that my life has been rich
and if this is the end
so be it

but I am terrified
not ready
too much to repair
happenings not to be missed
a heart not fully opened

tears roll into my mask
I can’t pray
it seems so selfish to add one more plea
when God is clearly not coping

after six cold hours
colder still for my sweetheart
unplugged in the parking lot
I am discharged

poked prodded scanned
they think they know what it isn’t
“your doctor will call you
one more test
and we think we’ll know what it is.”









Jo Ann Smith
Jo Ann Smith

Jo Ann Smith spent most of her life in public education as a teacher, counselor, principal and superintendent, all at the high school level. In those capacities her writing relied on the orderly left side of her brain. Now retired, she finds herself drawn to the evocative elements of poetry – a very different kind of writing specificity. This journey continues to be challenging, revealing and liberating. In 2019 Jo Ann was recognized as an “award of merit poet” in Redwood Writers’ poetry anthology, Crow.


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5 replies »

  1. In my several trips to the ER I can;t remember any time they wanted all my clothes and jewelry off first thing, thankfully !. But there have been times (involving broken bones) when I have had to ask for something for the pain.

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