Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Anesthesia (for Donnah)

Donnah, an old friend of my ex-wife, is an anaesthesiologist back in West Virginia or Ohio. She visited us once with her husband, and we had some interesting conversations. At some point, she mentioned that the hardest thing for her in her profession was when she had to anaesthetize diabetic seniors for amputation. Donnah didn't strike me as a particularly emotional person, but her comments that night did reveal a heart that she didn't open up often for people to see.


Those toes—she thinks—
Those black, gnarled toes
once tiny and pink,
kissed lightly and counted
so long ago.

She shudders and checks
tank, tube, and syringe
while the nurse stains skin
with Betadine.

The time comes.
She presses amnesia
into the saline drip
clouding the mind
of the one-time infant.

“Let me know before
you use the loud thing,”
she says.

The surgeon nods.
She folds the pillow
over the patient’s ears
and hopes he’ll not recall
the whining blade.

W D Burns
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