Two Mothers

Patricia Cannon has been a Registered Nurse at UCSF since 2001. She has worked in cardiac critical care, neurointensive care, hemeoncology, school nursing, and currently, in research. Her passion is her faith, photography, and the written word in all its forms. Brave Hearts was written during the pandemic and was previously published by Passagers Books.

Back to by healthcare workers


By Patricia Cannon RN

During my afternoon walk, I see a homeless man in what appears to be a deep slumber, most likely induced by some addictive substance. His white T-shirt is pulled halfway up his chest revealing a black circle made by a permanent marker on the side of his lower back. I realize that he must have been in the hospital, and one of the doctors noticed a rash, so they circled the area to monitor for shingles.

I feel as if I’m walking by a crime scene, like the two “religious people” who passed by the injured man in Jesus’ parable about the “Good Samaritan.” I check that he’s breathing by observing his chest rise and fall before I continue down the street. Guilt and helplessness weigh heavy upon my shoulders as I turn the corner. Then, I find a little blue-knit baby shoe on the ground.

A man waiting at a bus stop glances at my scrubs and says through his mask, “Thank you for your service.” I meet his eyes and thank him for his sentiments. His kind words are still fresh in my mind as I return to work, but I can’t help but think of how I stepped around that man without shelter. His body lay sprawled on the cement. I wonder what led him to such a solitary and desperate place. I also think of two mothers: One who lost a shoe and the other who lost her son.

Patricia Cannon has been a Registered Nurse at UCSF since 2001. She has worked in cardiac critical care, neurointensive care, hemeoncology, school nursing, and currently, in research. Her passion is her faith, photography, and the written word in all its forms. Brave Hearts was written during the pandemic and was previously published by Passagers Books.

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Eric Dessner
August 5, 2023 4:19 pm

This poem kinda reminds me of a famous Charles Simic poem I was stolen by the gypsies By Charles Simic I was stolen by the gypsies. My parents stole me right back. Then the Gypsies stole me again. This went on for some time. One minute I was in the caravan suckling the dark teat of my new mother, the next I sat at the long dining room table eating my breakfast with a silver… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Eric Dessner
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