53 years ago today
you made your entrance
into a tenuous world
ahead of schedule, backward,
lungs under construction
tiny heart pumping
little limbs rushing.
Your thin wall enfolding the sustaining
nectars of life, incapable of
postponing the birth
until you were ready to embark
safely on the journey of life,
a full month hence.
The warning was terrifying,
rude and abrupt, great outflow of blood
struck terror in Mom’s heart.
Fear gently pushing from behind a
wall of practicality…protect
the new carpeting at all cost.
The support system a five-year-old,
innocent…decades from her nursing degree…
you must run for help. Can you say emergency?
A neighbor entrance surrounding a planting
of bright portulacas of reds and golds.
a willing and available heroine came to the rescue.
Bright red blood, contained in a bathroom,
tile walls and floor, and in the basins.
Keep calm. Think…keep calm.
Doors open, a brand new hospital in the desert
state of the art maternity neo-natal unit.
Women in white, a cold steel conveyor to
transport mother and birthing infant to safety.
The doctor sits by, writing and making X-es
on Mom’s stomach with a pen.
What is the worst thing it can be?
What it is… my dear lady…there’s nothing we can do
except wait until baby is ready.
Can’t you do something? asked the pleading father
I wish there was…said the doctor, with tears in his eyes.
He is hungry, having only a vending machine
sandwich to pass as dinner.
The baby cannot survive, said the doctor,
not even long enough for the priest to arrive.
I’ll do that job, said a nurse named Maria,
I have done many in my career…regardless
of persuasion, the sign of the cross universal.
We can’t bring him in, and we can’t take you now
to the incubator where the baby reclines, breathing
desperately to recover.
The rest is history…the story of your life,
long and productive though hampered in ways
from first not enough oxygen, then too much.
It was 1963…a lifetime ago.
You survived against all odds…saved by God’s
grace in keeping you small, which meant
adequate strength for the tiny heart
to beat strongly enough to fulfill the task assigned.
It is true that some parts of the brain can became
shorted out in the conduit at birth, affecting
certain skills … but perhaps enhancing others
at once, in the grand plan of compensation.
Loved by everyone, respected by all, blessed
with keen intelligence and understanding.
Happy birthday, son!