The bull between whose horns I perch is life.
The bull between whose horns I cling is death.
Tossed on these horns who bleeding dies
Or doesn't die but bleeding, hanging on,
rides, and the bull charges through late winter
as through an icy pane and into spring.
Shards shower in its wake.
We need to make a place for the dilemma,
sweep the shards and gather up the pieces,
clear out a space for puzzlement and grief.
I visited the hospital, came home,
tried, failed to sleep, tossed in confusion,
Fredy El Sakr
"Help!" I yelled out of our open apartment door.
I was seven years old, and my family had recently emigrated from Egypt to the US. We'd been feeling elated that week because, after months of interviews, my father had matched into a pediatric residency.
That morning he'd awakened feeling nauseated. My mother and sister went to buy some soothing food. I noticed that he'd vomited in the bathroom; now he was feeling worse.
He knew it was serious, because he put on his brown leather jacket and lay back in our blue recliner, waiting for my mom to return and take him to the emergency room. Now and then he'd look at me reassuringly with deep, dark, pain-stricken eyes, but he was clearly in agony. Then, as I watched, his eyes rolled back in his head.
"Why don't you talk loud enough for the whole damn hospital to hear you?"
I've just greeted my eighty-four-year-old grandmother, and now this irascible voice has erupted from behind the curtain that separates us from whoever is sharing Grandma's room.
The nursing assistant who showed me in glares across the curtain at the other inhabitant.
"You shut up," she tells the person firmly, "or I'll smack you with a bedpan."
Then she leaves us alone.