Sestina: In the ICU

My father had just died. The nurse
released him from the wires that had tracked
his waning vital signs. We didn’t cry
at first; we hadn’t as we watched
his numbers dropping on the screen. Dad looked
serene, asleep, almost alive,
although the stroke had left him half alive,
immobile in bed for two months.  The nurse
said we could take our time. Sidelong, I looked
at her calm, young face, which showed
how routine this was; then I watched
my brother collapse into a chair and cry.
We other three broke down to see him cry,
the boy inside the man who wished his dad alive.
He took out his cell phone to call his kids. I watched
two women, one wheelchair bound, approach the nurse
in the hall. Dad’s second ex-wife. Well, that showed
her nerve. I’d said, “Don’t come.” My brother looked
at me and cringed. How stricken she looked
when I said , “He’s gone.” She let out a cry
of grief. However, her daughter showed
no regret. She’d hated Dad when he was alive.
I nodded that it was okay, so the nurse
went out. The wheelchair clanged. I watched
as Dad’s ex-wife raised herself, watched
her throw herself on Dad’s body. She looked
so pathetic, we left the room. The nurse
shut the door, but that wailing cry
carried. We shifted and muttered. Sakes alive,
did she think her histrionics showed
she still cared? Her condition showed
the effects of her own stroke were worse. Dad  watched
over her, even after the divorce. If love was alive,
why had they split? At last it looked
as if the “widow” was finishing her cry.
I rolled my eyes at the nurse.
A doctor showed up for the post-mortem. We  looked
at Dad once more. We’d watched him die. Later on we’d cry
and laugh to recall him alive. As we left, we thanked the nurse.

Prompt source: NaBloPoMo Poetry Contest, Sestinas


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8 Responses to Sestina: In the ICU

  1. Nichole says:

    This is so raw and wrenching. My husband’s grandfather passed away a few weeks ago; this struck a nerve. Very nicely done.

    • NancyB says:

      Thank you, Nicole–but I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s grandfather. My condolences. Fortunately, I’m looking back at Dad’s passing through the distancing lens of three years this June.

  2. Steve Link says:

    Indeed, that is gripping. I just completed my first Beginning Creative Writers course on-line and hope to be able to write that well one day. Bravo.

    • NancyB says:

      Gosh, thanks, Steve! Let me know if I can ever be of assistance with your writing. Congratulations on taking the big step by completing the course.

  3. mergrrl says:

    Thank you for sharing such real, true, loving, honest emotions. Your words and feelings connect with me at the deepest level, and I sympathize and send my prayers and support for continued laughing, loving, and healing.

  4. TangledLou says:

    This is fantastic! I am so impressed. I noticed the sestina challenge on BlogHer and I completely chickened out.
    This is so raw and so moving. I love it.

    Just stopping by from NaBloPoMo

    • NancyB says:

      I appreciate your response so much! I was surprised they started with a sestina at Blogher; I consider this one of the more challenging forms, and I hate to think it scared people off from trying it.

      I stopped by your blog, and I’m so impressed. You’re an impressive writer. That’s the beauty of NaBloPoMo–finding great blogs to read.

      Thanks again, Nancy

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