The nights I stayed at MD Anderson,
tossing and turning on that green recliner
or wandering the halls, went on and on.

Post-op, bedridden in a johnny gown
and socks, my mother put on fresh eyeliner
the nights I stayed. At MD Anderson,

her nurses knew me as the quiet son
who studied poetry (with a psych minor)
and wandered the halls. They went on and on

about my mother’s strength, fooling no one
when they described her pain meds as “designer.”
The nights I stayed at MD Anderson,

I made excuses to be on my own,
forgetting her room number (eight or nine or . . .)
to wander the halls, on and on and on,

sometimes till morning, waiting for the sun
to whisk me away like an ocean liner.
The nights I stayed at MD Anderson,
wandering its halls, would go on and on.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 5, on page 56
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