What we scream when we mean “Mom” in a strange antiseptic room stripped of clothes and jewelry. Trying to show some dignity. “NURSE” And she does not scare no matter how urgent the plea, she knows others have abandoned this corridor. So she brings in the food trays left on the floor outside the rooms. She takes out the garbage at the end of her shift. She is the family that won’t visit. She brings her history though, once a tough girl whose own father died way too soon, when she was just a child.
Whose mom made gin in the bathtub to support the family, the farm wasn’t enough for the family of a young widower with so many children.
But she left that farm, that coal mining town in Pennsylvania. And when she could, she traveled by train, by plane, by ship, to Spain, to Gibraltar, to Morocco. She studied to be a nurse, a respectful profession she could have. But now, she is here in this room so many years later. She prays on her rosary she could heal you. But she knows she can’t do more than this, bring you relief, if only temporary, and be here,
Soraya Shalforoosh is the author of This Version of Earth (Barrow Street, 2014). Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Can We Have Our Ball Back, Columbia Poetry Review, Good Foot, Iranian.com, Marlboro Review, MiPo Literary Journal, Octopus Magazine, Shampoo, Skanky Possum, and Unpleasant Event Schedule, among other journals, as well as in the anthology The Brink: Postmodern Poetry from ’65 to the Present (Yeti Books, 2005).
This poem is not previously published.