• leaflet

    . . .a thin triangular flap of a heart valve. . . a small book usually having a paper cover . . . a medical lit-art e-journal from The Permanente Press
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The Night Call

Poetry, Volume 1; Issue 1

In silence I rise, don the ritual white
over my slept-in greens
reciting a litany of laments 
about the cruelty of waking the living 
in the middle of the night 
in order to pronounce the dead

so useless and perfunctory 
the nurses rarely wrong 
the liturgy of dying halts until 
the minister arrives

the family watches me 
as if no one ever died before 
I nod to them with practiced grimness
and they nod back … quietly … waiting

I begin the rubrics of measurement 
I listen for breath and heart beat 
look for spontaneous respiration 
my fingers fumble for a pulse

satisfied but not surprised 
I put aside my stethoscope and reach to close the eyes 
pale and puffy in their meaningless stare 
thanking God that men have eyelids unlike fish 
the smell of death still on my hands 
I cannot wash it out

ceremony now complete 
I stumble back to bed 
still half asleep 
half alive