Wynne Morrison ~
The door opens, we pause again.
Voices singing in the lobby drown out
her parents and the specialists alike.
I think they added bells this year,
the cheerful carols carefully chosen
to celebrate the season, not a faith.
A guitar picks up a riff, the same
one my daughter played so long ago
in her one embarrassed solo
on the school stage. A song both
fitting and ironic, about keeping up
the fight. Down the hall, their daughter
listens to the voices rise and fall.
The doors open, and the doors close.
About the poet:
Wynne Morrison is a physician practicing pediatric critical care and palliative care at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She also teaches in the professionalism and ethics curriculum at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. "Writing poetry helps to keep me sane."
About the poem:
"Reminders of everyday life, including celebrations and the happiness of others, are frequent in the hospital. For a particular patient or family, however, this may come at a time when they are grieving or overwhelmed. This poem grew out of a meditation on such occasions: We would not want to lose the reminders of happiness, but to me it did feel like a door opening and closing, with the sounds of the outside world making themselves known."
Johanna Shapiro and Stacy Nigliazzo