The Patient is Calling for Her Mother

The patient is calling for her mother.
Her chart indicates: tachycardia, febrile, 103
years old…Her chart, our chart of her
progress, says nothing about the way
her body has shrunken and curled upon the bed,
a question mark.
Well enough I know this march –
the steps all feet will tread,
the linear decay of the body.
How can the mind then circle back,
dare to break these somber ranks,
flying back, like Atalanta for the Golden Apples,
too late.  She finds only me
in my white coat –
I am not her mother.
(Will my children call backward to me?)
Not her mother,
I hold the downy head in my hands.

Molly Finnerty, Chicago, Medical Scholars Training Program

Class of 1993

Originally published in Vol. VI: 1990