A visit from The Healing Muse: 'Brave'
Deirdre Neilen, PhD, shares a selection from Upstate‘s literary journal, “The Healing Muse,” every Sunday on “HealthLink on Air.” Neilen is the editor of the annual publication featuring fiction, poetry, essays and visual art focused on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing. Read The Healing Muse Cafe Blog.
Today‘s selection is "Brave" by Tai Wei Guo. Order your copy of “The Healing Muse” today.
Deirdre Neilen, PhD: Physician and poet Tai Wei Guo gives us a portrait of a young girl in the hospital, reflecting on the sounds and sights all around her, as she tries to be brave.
Here is "Brave":
Machines in the hospital can cry, but brave little girls do not.
Little girls who cry startle doctors who ask "what's wrong?"
Doctors feel like they have to fix everything.
When your bones are broken, they fix your bones;
and when your bones are dislocated, they locate them.
When your pancreas is broken, they excise the tumor;
when your spirit is broken, they try to exorcise the fear.
Meanwhile, machines in the hospital sing all day of apocalypse:
Air in line, occlusion downstream, air in line, infusion complete.
Machines in the hospital are actually metronomes
because they count every lonely second with you.
Lub-dub pa-chik lub-dub pa-chik lub-dub pa-chik lub-dub --
Brave little girls whittle away at time watching Van Helsing.
Brave little girls read books like Dawkins and know there is
no use crying over statistics: someone had to be unlucky.
Brave little girls know refusing morphine is a sign
of strength and refusing faith is a sign of science because
refusing pity is the highest sign. Bravery is being content
watching ships outside the window barging downstream.
Except it doesn't feel brave to watch your mother crying.
Here is the secret: brave little girls are just
little girls because they never chose to be brave.
What else is there to be, with half a pancreas
and a line of staples holding their guts together.