© 2022 Pulse - Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved.
Scott Wilson ~
Take her breath, still her heart, and
clean her body out with a spoon.
Wring her spirit in the river and
place her eyes beside the moon.
Fold up her memories in a dresser and
frame her smile in the sky.
Turn up her laughter in the darkness and
let her freckles start to fly.
Smoke her love
During the service, after the mensch acclamation
and before the sermon-sized metaphor
that started with a tree then lost me
a comrade from the morning shift at college–
they shared a lecture hall and the appreciation
that all sleepy students are sleepy in different ways–
quoted John bragging about having the North Grounds pool
all to himself at sunrise. Morning people brag
It’s 2:00 am, and the fluorescent bulbs flicker gently overhead along the quiet hallways of the intensive-care unit.
Tonight I’m the ICU resident on call, and the weight of that title sits heavily on my shoulders. My team is in charge of keeping our critically ill patients safe from harm overnight. Although the supervising physician is only a phone call away, I’m the acting team lead for any codes called during
About the artist:
Cathleen Mahan is a contemporary visual artist and a registered nurse specializing in critical care. “I’ve long known that my experience as a nurse informs my artwork. The same quality of touch that reassures a frightened patient becomes a creative source in the
Two years ago, I’d just begun my new post as clinical supervisor at the caregiver-support center at a large medical institution. The center offers emotional and practical support to families of patients who are dealing with serious illnesses and hospitalizations.
In my short time there, I’d already encountered many memorable clients, but somehow I felt a special connection with one woman, Maria. A small, intense woman with piercing dark eyes, she often
I need a new stethoscope. I have to wrap my fingers around the fissures in the tubing to make this one work.
For me, these days, listening to the patient’s chest is more a ritual than a means of diagnosis. After twenty years as a primary-care internist, I now work full-time in hospice and palliative care. I spend more time listening to stories than to hearts and lungs. Even so, there’s
It was a Wednesday in late spring, 1972. I was a nursing student in my final months of training, eagerly awaiting graduation.
When I arrived on the maternity ward that morning, my nursing instructor told me that I’d be caring for a baby, only hours old, with special needs.
I thought she’d send me to the neonatal ICU. Instead, to my surprise, she motioned toward the linen closet, its doors
This openness into
This brightness onto
This bodied and
This shutter stop
Your round soft
beneath a feeble
“not quite ready”
to take you
even though you
and Trixie your cat
had walked the dark
“He’s just expired,” said the nurse as I approached Ray’s room in the large inner-city hospital where I work as a patient advocate. “And his wife has just arrived. Why don’t you go in?”
I found Natalie bent over Ray’s body. His hollow cheek was drenched with her tears.
“I’m so sor–“
“I told him yesterday to talk to Jesus,” Natalie interrupted, speaking quickly. “I told him if the
White coat, sterile gloves
my instrument dangling
but she finally died
after such a struggle–the young
always struggle so–
I listened to her chest
till it stopped then clicked
off the machine.
It sighed for us all as the air
drained out. And the moon
was still low in the sky
so large, so round–this
is a shape I know well–