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Sean Rima: A Poem A Day, “The Harpist.”

 

The harpist.

The further down the
long, white hall you go,
the worse the cases seem
to get, whether by design
or the cruel
happenstance of
a newly available bed,

and you can observe
for yourself the seven
stages of mourning as
you stroll towards
the window
at the
end of the hall,
past the sliding glass
doors of the units, just
beyond the crash station–

the big man on his back,
staring at the television and
visited by no one–

the old woman with the curly
red hair, her mouth opened
in a silent groan, her adult
sons and daughters
sitting by her
bed and wiping
their eyes as she
gazes at the ceiling–

the thin, gray man with the
thin, gray arms like drinking
straws, his old wife in the
chair, reading the
newspaper aloud to
him as a young
dude in green scrubs
changes his IV tubes–

the dark room at the end
of the hall, next to the window,
with the curtain drawn across
the doors, the one where
the folks come and
go, looking nervous
as they move
inside, then
weeping as they
step back out–

and though I feel selfish
for it, I am thankful that
I am standing outside the unit
near the beginning of the hall,
though it breaks my heart
when they are
cleaning the blood
from her lips or
sliding the needles
into her tiny arms,

which is why
I happen to be standing
in the hall as he rolls by,

this older gentleman,
in a brushed, black cowboy
hat and polished boots,
pushing what appears to be a
tall piece of medical equipment
on small wheels down the hall,
and I observe, enthralled,
as the chaos
makes way for him,
and the doctors and nurses
and technicians create
a path for him
without pausing from
their busy conversations
or rolling their
IV stands and crash carts
back and forth inside the
sliding glass doors of the
rooms of the

Intensive Care Unit,

at University Hospital,

in San Antonio, Texas,

on a rainy Tuesday night,

and not quite sure if I am
seeing a real person or an
angel, I watch as this
old cowboy,
dressed and pressed,
wheels his medical device
next to the nurse’s counter,
finds a chair, sits, then reaches
up and unzips the black plastic
case covering the mysterious
machine, which is then
revealed to be a

full-sized, handcrafted harp

painted royal blue and gold,

and leaning it onto his shoulder
and placing the pointed tips
of his boots against
the pedals at the base,
his long, white fingers wrap
around the colored strings,

and he begins to play,

and as I step closer,
I realize the tune is

“Something,”

by The Beatles, and at

the instant that I

recognize it, I unconsciously

glance past the nearest pair of
sliding glass doors, and there,
I see the old woman
with the curly red hair,
and her silent groan
is newly stretched
into a smile, as

her head rolls back and forth
on her pillow, and her adult
children are laughing and
crying, and

it is in this one, perfect moment
that I come to embrace what

beautiful, soulful creatures
we human beings truly are when

we don’t think

anybody’s watching.

 

____

Copyright 2019 by Sean Rima.

“Poems” available May 11 by Lulu Press.


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