Touch: The Journal of Healing


Unusual Patterns

    by Gregory W. Randall

We say nothing to the night nurses

who mistake me for your husband,

who can’t reconcile me as 

your stepfather. When your daughter

visits, they struggle to discern 

any genetic similarities between us.

We’re beyond the point now

of debunking their theories, their 

conjectures of what constitutes 

family, choosing instead 

to interact behind these panes of glass 

like mute figures in a tapestry 

whose roles and relations are

merely guessed at. But last night

they stopped me in the hall,

questioned my role, even asked

for ID. As if I could furnish them

with papers that state: I answer 

incoming calls on three cell phones. 

I fetch meals and toiletries. I 

read aloud stories, flip channels, 

jot notes on drug regimes, track 

the level of fluid passing out of her body.

I listen to the rapidity of her pulse,

question the changing of saline,

learn with my hands the contours

of her spine, the knotted connective 

tissue, and replay every episode

she’s forgotten during periods of 

blackout and surgery, such as

what her daughter’s done and

what new words take shape 

in that young mouth, so whole 

segments of this woman’s life 

won’t evaporate. We’re defined 

by our desire for survival, 

by a vested history whose scenes 

evolve ever further within these 

cloistered walls, as when 

thread is dyed and one color 

enters and penetrates the fabric, 

altering our understanding of thread.

© 2010 Gregory W. Randall

Gregory W. Randall majored in English and Latin at St.Olaf College and spent innumerable hours in the music library. Classical music by composers such as Sibelius and Brahms continue to inform both the structure and pacing of his poetry. His chapbook, Double Happiness, won the Fifth Annual Camber Press Chapbook Contest as judged by Mark Doty and is forthcoming in late 2010. His chapbook, A Room in the Country, will be published by Pudding House Press in 2010. He is a recipient of the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize for 2008 and a finalist for the 2008 White Pine Press book award. His recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Bitter Oleander, CQ, Cream City, GW Review, Louisiana Literature, Louisville Review, Pedestal, Rosebud, Southern California Review, South Carolina Review, Sow’s Ear, Stand, and other noted journals. Greg owns a financial planning practice in Santa Rosa, CA where he and his wife host the Londonberry Salon a quarterly celebration of poetry in their home.


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Touch: The Journal of Healing

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