Touch: The Journal of Healing


Editor’s Choice


The Formula for Wholeness

    by Katherine DiBella Seluja

The shape of his head was a pyramid

a pyramid turned upside down

his chin the pointed capstone

widening slowly into granite cheekbone

expanding further to the massive base.

Hector was born with only a brainstem

and miles of space and fluid

where the rest of his brain should have been.

I wanted to fill that space.  I wanted to make him whole.

All I could do was hold him.

Wrapped in soft cotton blankets.  Faded pink and blue stripes,

the pink and blue of his veins more visible every day.

Some ancient impulse directed his tongue

to grope and reach for nurse's hand    blanket's edge,

plastic tubing that randomly brushed his face.

He gazed with protruding eyes at dark linoleum floors,

bright florescent light    late night radio

on the shelf above his bassinet.

Each nurse took her turn with Hector.

Each one sure that she could heal him,

offer the cure for space where brain should be.

And if not, then a mumbled Hindu prayer

leather pouch of Jamaican curry

woven cross of fresh green palm.

His fontanel began to bulge.

I counted his irregular pulse there

in the little domed tent that swelled at the top of his head.

He lost his will to suck

we lost one more way to soothe him.

And then it was only quiet

and nurse's arms         and faded pink and blue

a stone form Medjugorje         a string of ivory beads.

A prayer card with the bleeding heart

bursting under a crown of thorns

was tucked behind his bassinet

on the day I came to work and he was gone.

© 2013  Katherine DiBella Seluja

Katherine DiBella Seluja received degrees from Yale and Columbia University.  Her poems have appeared in New Mexico Poetry Review, Santa Fe Literature Review, and Sin Fronteras.  Her chapbook, After the Thread Unravels, was a finalist in the 2012 Bordighera Poetry Competition.   She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and dreams in Siena.

Copyright © 2012

Touch: The Journal of Healing

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