Saturday, April 14, 2007

Silent Night

Finally, a moment to lie down.
The tasks of the night are complete
and the ward is still and quiet.
If their illnesses will allow,
the patients too now may sleep
and take a short respite from the
symptoms that ail them.

A rare luxury it is
to remove the white coat
and sleep with one’s patients,
letting the lines of distinction blur
between carer of and cared for.
A sweet slumber it will be,
restorative to body and mind.

Sweet, yet cautious.
The shepherd too knows sleep like this,
one eye shut in rest
and the other partially open,
scanning the field for shadows
that may flick and flitter across it
and threaten his flock.

Interruptions are begrudged,
but most feared is the completely silent night,
which suggests that the sleep was too deep
and that luxury may have turned into negligence.
The sleep of call is usually devoid of dreams,
but a recurrent nightmare does exist:
that upon awakening the flock will be one fewer,
a cloud of oblivion having obscured
the helpless calls of a patient who lay dying.