The Patient Dreams (Special Guest: Bruce Webb)

Photo by  Daan Stevens  on  Unsplash

Photo by Daan Stevens on Unsplash

Joining Rev. Tommy Williams today is St. Paul's member Bruce Webb, who shares a poem he wrote about two experiences in a hospital room: 1) the death of his father in 1968 and 2) his own life-saving heart transplant procedure 20 years later. Pay close attention to Bruce's use of imagery in windows, eyes, and coins. 

The Patient Dreams
by Bruce Webb
In the patient’s room are nine windows.
Five windows face south and bring no stories to tell.
Their purpose simply to gather thin yellow light
That passes across the room, examining the wall
Six hours each day, behind the patient’s bed. 
Of the other four,
Two on the west vex the patient
At twilight when they wrinkle up, cold and blue,
A hollow color matching the patient’s waxy skin.
The other two windows
Have not been seen, have not been found yet
In the room. Much is made of this by the patient
His doctors and especially an old priest
Who claims to have seen these windows
And tells the patient that eternity
Is like the soft, Irish green, pastoral landscape,
That lies within their frames.

“When I go,” the patient says,
I want it to happen quickly.” He imagines
It will be like falling asleep in one room
And waking in another.   
The priest agrees
And says, “When you go, angels open their arms to you,
Invite you in. Lead you on. Then,
When the time is right, they take you
To a clearing where everyone you know is gathered
And you have barbeque."  

The doctors dart in and out,
Don’t stay long,
They look at their watches
And at each other, shrug their shoulders,
Adjust the metal blinds into thin bands of light.
They say,                                                                                
It won’t be long now: Two hours? Three? The machine stops.
They will pin down his eyelids with silver coins.