Touch: The Journal of Healing


Doing the Nightshift

    by Gregory W. Randall

Here we are again, you and I,

in these dimmed, restless rooms.

Again, the vigilant hours,

the plodding clocks, the body rubs,

the Toradol that sears your veins.

Your mother and husband went home

to rest for the night, leaving us to prattle

like pale marsupials in the dark.

Is it because so few shared memories

flow between us that you prefer me

here?  No reminders throughout

the night of what’s been lost,

what’s unrecoverable?  Is it because

I didn’t know the woman

who bought her bridal gown

at seventeen, then buried her father

the next year?  Nor the woman

who finalized wedding invitations

at twenty-one, then didn’t marry

till twenty-seven?  Only the woman

who stooped over one night

to pick up her child and stroked

at thirty-four.  I know the patterns

sutures make across your scalp,

the sores on your inner arms from IV’s,

your required heart rate.  And certain dawns,

you ask me to hold down your legs

which lash under the sheets

while nurses poke around for blood.

It’s then I must push shut

like a trapdoor leading under the house

the memory of being six, concussed

in a hospital bed while an intern

probes my wrist with a needle,

searching for a vein—he searches

eleven times while my father

stands by, stupefied and unwilling

to intercede.  It’s never a slight pinch

for us, but the nail of a talon that

punctures the arm.  I close my eyes,

tell the nurse: with her, you have one try.

So here we are again, you and I,

where the hours forsake us,

where we listen to an old woman’s

haggard moans prowl the corridors

with all the incessant beeps of mechanized

towers infusing you with life force

and all the dull pictures of far-away

coasts—oh, how we crave release.

© 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, was published by Pudding House Press in April, 2010.  His chapbook, Uncommon Refrains, is scheduled for publication by The Lives You Touch Publications in the spring of 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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