ICU

Sara Rempe

The women moved through silence
like monks through a garden, all focus

and white cotton, soaping, rinsing,
lifting her body to sponge

her swollen skin. We were
there when they cleaned her

of diarrhea, sliding an arm
under her when she struggled to move

she’d groan, suck in, drop–
limbs like thin shoots

of bamboo: rickety and trembling
under a papery sheet.

She’d climbed a mountain the week
before, stretching in the thin pure

air, ecstatic,
as though it were something other

than her body
that brought her there.

About the poet:

Sara Rempe is a writer and teacher in New York City. She received her master’s degree in creative writing from Hunter College and currently teaches in the college’s English department.

About the poem:

“I was hoping to point to two things in this poem: the swiftness with which illness can claim a person and render the immediate past totally incongruent with the present; and the experience of not being the primary caretaker when a loved one is in a place like the ICU. You’re forced to become an observer.”

Poetry editors:

Judy Schaefer and Johanna Shapiro

About the Poem

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Poems

Popular Tags
addiction alcohol addiction allergies anatomy lab bedside manner bigotry breast cancer cancer caregiver stories caregiving chemotherapy child abuse childbirth children chronic illness complementary therapies confidentiality connecting with patients coping with death coping with illness coping with patient death cross-cultural health care cultural competence death and dying death of a parent dementia depression diabetes disability doctor-patient communication doctor-patient relationship doctor as patient doctor poems doctor stories drug addiction end of life end of life decision making faith family medicine frustration with healthcare system genetic disorders geriatrics getting the news healing health care policy health care politics health insurance HIV humor ill parent immigration inequality international health labor and delivery leukemia medical errors medical student stories medical training medicine memorable patients mental health mental health professional stories mental illness military medicine miracles miscarriage mistakes neuroscience nurse poems nurse stories ob/gyn palliative care parent stories Parkinson's disease patient-centered care patient poems patient stories pediatrics personal remembrance physician assistant stories poem poems/poetry pregnancy PTSD race realizing human mortality resident stories role modeling self care social determinants of health social issues social worker stories spirituality stress and burnout suicide surgery thanksgiving the bad doctor visuals war veteran
Scroll to Top