July 23, 2012

Helpless

I cannot do this

From her mouth
come relentless screams--
treble octaves of agony
wound through with fear and hunger

The sound pierces
my gut, my head, my heart,
a voice of pure anguish
that precedes language

I am not prepared to feel this way--
lost, at a loss, losing my mind

I cannot do this

Even a mother's touch cannot soothe
the brain waves that are "grossly abnormal."

We take the history,
the dates and battlefields,
temper tantrums and staring fits,
and map her decline.

We shout over the artillery shrieks
as the three year old patient
hurls her tiny body from side to side,
head ricocheting violently close to bed rails.

The silent hallway and the emptiness
of the stairwell define shell-shock:
phantom echoes from her room.
I hear only fury and terror,
the pitched clamor of torment.

I am outside myself
In my head run the words:
I cannot do this

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