Women’s Clinic, Late December
In the clinic back room, my Secret Santa
hands me a gift―the centuries in photographs:
a soldier shot point blank in Viet Nam;
an Ethiopian girl, barely a jumble of bones.
In between patients, the radio tolls carols,
and I nurse my own list: this morning I saw a woman
with cancer, baseball cap on backwards, bloated face,
who had just received bad news. I imagine
the Ethiopian girl starved in Africa, the soldier’s blood
dried on the street, all the illness and grief
we can’t control; the way sleep eludes me
so I no longer dream. I’ve been told there is grace
in suffering―soon enough, the same brittle sky,
you and me and all our possessions gone.
But then I find the blue plastic bottle a child
has forgotten in the waiting room. It is still warm,
and heavy with the milk she hadn’t yet drunk.
By Courtney Davis
Cortney Davis is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Daughter and I Hear Their Voices Singing: Poems New & Selected. She is also the author of three memoirs and co-editor of three anthologies of creative writing by nurses. A nurse practitioner, Davis often writes about the relationship between patients and their caregivers, the sacred space of that unique connection. www.cortneydavis.com.