Prayer from the Emergency Department
There is a child with a sternum splintered
like star shard, bone bright against soft skin.
Can you imagine how much force
he was kicked with? Look—
the mother brought the boot.
Make the cut a clean cut,
scalpel exposing a chest like a cavern,
darker depths lining lungs run ragged, jagged
tufts of pink and air. Find how the bones go
back, wrap with wire. Wrap tight, back
to front so they might heal. They will heal—
say it like a prayer.
The mother holds the boot to her,
metal tip digging into her shirt and there
is so much blood
and we leave her in his blood, his father’s boot
until she can’t hold it anymore, throws it down
as the surgeon’s stitch and suture, suture and stitch.
We wait until she’s gone upstairs to pace
among the operating rooms like a ghoul, grimacing
and waiting in her fear. The boot is on the floor
and the blood, plastic wrapping, tubing, needle caps,
ambu bag, bougie, sheets tangled white and red—
we pick up the pieces of our trauma.
Sophia Gorgens, MD is an emergency medicine resident at Zucker-Northwell NS/LIJ. She went to medical school at Emory University and undergraduate school at Boston College.