Tag: prose

Simple Moments.

Madagascar Family

Meet little Mialy, Mia, and their father…known simply as Baba. They—along with 15 other siblings—made up my host family during a time spent in the arid region of southern Madagascar, where I was doing research on the Antandroy communities.

I often think back to this family with bittersweet fondness. When I was there, I was profoundly inspired by their love for life and their appreciation of the simple joys it brings…while endlessly cheered by their wide grins and generous laughter.

But now, when I glance at this photo, their visage seems to reveal a truth much deeper…and my heart aches a little.

Nevertheless, the sound of their laughter will remain with me forever, and I am thankful to have met them…and grateful for the lessons they taught me in treasuring the simple moments in life.

Departure.

Liberated
into the haven
of a mausoleum
lies a dove deceived-
its tattered pinions
a reminder of
a pledge riven
a reverie tainted
an innocence
betrayed…

Deliverance.

Caressed
by the hush
of a wayward tear
emerged
from flames
that once
scalded her eyes
is an innocence lost
a wistfulness retained
a longing diffused
within the brine
of memories.

Weighted
like the dew
upon a thorn
to the force
of an ethereal call
she surrenders.
With strengthened hope
through moistened gaze
down meandered path
she searches
until finally
upon her lips
does she taste
the bittersweetness
of her deliverance.

Metamorphosis.

Swathed
within the confines
of her tendrils
Cocooned
by the veins
of trepidation
the constraint
of knowledge
of an image
of that which
she was meant to be.

Achingly
she fights
sinews stretched
tendons taut
‘tween flesh and bone
Shattered
is her strength
Dissolved
are her fears
and the form
she once knew.
She awakens.

With wings spread, she flies away…

…and does not look back.

Redemption.

Like a dove in the cleft of rocks
tranquilly enveloped
suffocated
with a slumber
assuaged by silence
beneath the breath
of crescent glow.
Catch her
Save her
Treasure her
you whom her soul desires
and let her be freed.

Restored.

Immortalized
within counterfeit fibers
of a petrified forest
are your sorrows
weighed with silt,
swallowed by shadows
of its own valley,
silenced beneath
the porcelain surface
of a visage pristine.

Banish them.
Let your tears cathartic
burn these cheeks of mine.
Scour them with scars
of an ancient past
of an ache relived.
Let me bear the dusk
until from the womb,
emerged pure as
the morning dew,
is our love renewed.

A Caregiver’s Heart.

I cared for you even before we met.

As letters meandering the page
sketched the contours of a portrait,
I looked forward to meeting you.

As I enter the room,
I sense a fragrance of time past,
of struggles endured years before–
silent whispers of a mind’s unrest
reflected through misted eyes.

As we talk,
of a soul’s facade you steadily disrobe.
Words of suffering and pain, joy and pride-
each syllable a silvered twine
weaving your life’s story.

I examine you.
Your heart-
that fulcrum deeply hinged.
A bittersweet thrum
of a battery strong but worn.
Your lungs-
that which sing
their own melodious song,
a lulling carol
invigorated with each exhale.

From there a journey it becomes
to strengthen you, to make you whole.
A disease conquered, a valley bridged.
A hollow filled, a life restored.

We work together.
As ripples in a wake,
your life affects mine,
for the same heart that aches
when you suffer
rejoices with you
in your victories.

Because this is what I treasure–
the chance to care for you,
to walk with you.

It is a privilege.

So thank you for letting me.

The Waning (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

You already knew.
Gaze unflinching, 
you told us to say the words.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

A. L. S.

Despite sparse questions,
your eyes revealed
an understanding far deeper
than our answers-
that with one moment,
robbed were you
of the years ahead,
of memories awaiting,
of stories belonging to you.
Now lost.

Strength dissolving,
your conviction remains
unscathed.
You savor
each passing sunrise.
Each caress, each step.
For you know.
As your legs cease to support,
arms stop to comply,
you still feel
your child’s touch.
Absorbing her love.
Pretending
you don’t care the roles
have been reversed
as you yearn
to return her embrace.

As its hunger ascends,
You treasure
the remaining days.
Every word, every smile.
For you know.
Soon it
consumes your voice,
drains your visage,
until all that is left is
the silence
of a vacant mask.
Unable to reflect
your thought’s grin,
your heart’s laugh,
your soul tears
as you blink away the moisture.

As your breaths
increasingly betray you,
you are not defeated,
for the flames
of your bruised spirit
are not quenched,
and you give thanks
for the time you had,
even as your body dims
and you fade away.

A Letter to Grandma.

Fragments of moons past
sketch silhouettes of
a scenery divine.
A daytime reverie.
Fond memory.
A granddaughter missing you.

Do you recall, grandma?
Long ago, a grandbaby born
into an era of bitter lack,
that enriched by your presence,
comforting embrace,
renewed to an age of precious worth?

Do you suffer, grandma?
Parted by spanning seas,
my tears diffuse beneath the rain.
Had I a wish and a dove I became,
my wings would span,
sealing the distance between us.

Do you remember me, grandma?
Though the crook of time
has stolen your sight,
stripped your mind,
blunted your strength,
with a heavy heart
I still see you as before-
with beauty so simple,
love so pure
to inspire
a nightingale’s lament.

So fear not the season’s change, grandma,
nor the graying sun,
the silvering stream-
as the end of the road
will glisten a rainbow,
and the mists of tomorrow
will clear away your fog.

And then I will again be your grandbaby.

Embraced.

A love unknown…

A Search Within.

The search for strength…

A Memory of Ground Beef.

Once when I was on a specialized heart failure service, I took care of a teenage boy. He had a form of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and had a big heart…in, obviously, more ways than one.

He loved baseball, pumpkin pie, and horses. His family owned a farm, so before he got sick, he would often go horseback riding. He also loved to draw.

We, a team of five physicians, took care of him for a month while he was waiting for a heart transplant. He liked us. We liked him. So he drew us as well.

I thought he was clever. He thought I was even more so. All because he liked my joke:

“What do you call a cow with no legs?”

“Ground beef.”

That was it. He was just a great kid, trying his best to live the life given to him.

I found out recently that he passed away. And today I found the drawing he gave me. And I wept.

It used to be, that at the end of our visits, we would both say to each other, “Ground beef!” with a wink. It perplexed everyone else, but we knew exactly what we were talking about.

So here’s to you, dear buddy…

Ground beef.

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