From My Commonplace Book - 63

Lost in the Hospital

by Rafael Campo

It's not that I don't like the hospital.
Those small bouquets of flowers, pert and brave.
The smell of antiseptic cleaners.
The ill, so wistful in their rooms, so true.
My friend, the one who's dying, took me out
To where the patients go to smoke, IV's
And oxygen tanks attached to them --
A tiny patio for skeletons. We shared
A cigarette, which was delicious but
Too brief. I held his hand; it felt
Like someone's keys. How beautiful it was,
The sunlight pointing down at us, as if
We were important, full of life, unbound.
I wandered for a moment where his ribs
Had made a space for me, and there, beside
The thundering waterfall of his heart,
I rubbed my eyes and thought, "I'm lost."

Rafael Campo (American, born 1964) practices medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, serving mostly Latino, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered and HIV patients. He also teaches creative writing at Lesley University. "Lost in the Hospital" is from his poetry collection What the Body Told, which won the Lamba Literary Award for Poetry.
Likes: BEG and CJB


Such a moving poem. My best friend died of cancer 10 years ago - we shared almost exactly this same moment outside in the sunshine, smoking roll ups with all the other ill patients. This poem has so exactly expressed my own feelings at the time - a memory so intensely alive within myself still.
Dear Justy, my condolences for the loss of your best friend. I'm glad that you felt some connection to poem.
Thnks Merry, i generally love poetry but never find the time to read it (as i love prose too!)

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