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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


So much invasion, and so little to see–
in a moment you might put on your hat,
toss your newspaper into the fireplace,
empty your waterbottle into the sink. 
You might abandon even the remote
control.  Take your shirt
from the back of the chair
at the head of the table. Pack
your dictionary. So little to take
with you. Nothing of use to leave
behind. The empty room full
of your need
to be heard.

two                              what one said to the other
       knives                                in the dish drainer
     crossed                               yesterday’s ashes
             on                               his empty hands
              a                                flame that echoed
        white                                her face
           lace                               a brittle dance
          table                               torn and carved
          cloth                              on the edge of the stairs  

lives in a typical
guy house
with nothing but
and a Chinese food carton
age and origin unknown
conversation  revolves around beer
and the deeper
philosophical questions
he keeps a double mattress on the floor
with a single pokemon sheets
stretched to a diagonal near fit
and a very old
pacman pillow
the entertainment center
is state of the art

Mother presents
with request for utility form completion
Physician aware
Records clerk brings chart to physician for review
Chart documents poorly controlled asthma
MD requests that parent wait while MD completes exam of scheduled patient
Mother expresses anger at medical records clerk
Attempts to follow clerk into medical record room
Physician aware
MD repeats request that parent wait while MD completes exam of sick child
Mother threatens clerk with bodily harm
Staff request clinic manager dial 911
Physician aware
MD requests mother wait until care of current patient is completed
Clinic manager escorts parent to an exam room
Mother co-operative with physician as form is completed
Staff requests improved security protocol
Mother fails to bring asthmatic child to office for care as requested by physician
Union grievance filed against manager by clinical staff for failure to dial 911

I was the medical student on orthopedic surgery. 
It was a big case: neurosurgery, orthopedics
and pediatric surgery all involved; a child
with myelomeningocele, respiratory compromise
secondary to worsening scoliosis. He lay on his
left side. One group was to enter the chest,
one the back, one the abdomen. The first incisions
were made by general surgery (the abdomen)
and ortho (the back) then anesthesia spoke: dropping
pressures, irregular rhythm, flat line flat line transfuse
shock shock.  Bill Jo, left-handed, four foot ten, stood
across from me, quiet, good-humored; for four hours
he held the heart in his hands, a bag of worms.  Pump. 
Pump.  Pump.  I carried warm saline to lavage
the intestines. Neurosurgery never scrubbed.
We stood under the hot OR lamps as fall light
grayed to black.  Bill told quiet jokes in unaccented
English. The first board certified Korean American
pediatric surgeon.  Ortho left. Bill squeezed the heart. 
Again.  Again. Competent. Steady.  Gave me a turn. 
The faintest stirring movement. That bag of worms. 
Defribulate. Jolt.  And it did. On the eleventh try. 
Sinus rhythm.  On rounds the next day the child
sat up, CNS fully intact, told us all about kindergarten.

Copyright 2009, Kelley Jean White. © This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.

A New Hampshire native, Kelley Jean White studied at Dartmouth College and Harvard Medical School and has been a pediatrician in inner-city Philadelphia for more than twenty-five years.  Mother of three, White is an active Quaker. Her poems have been widely published over the past decade, in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Rattle and the Journal of the American Medical Association and in several chapbook and full-length collections. She is the recipient of a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant in poetry.