the ER...site of medical trench warfare
The “emergency room” (the emergency department, to the purist) is an arena of medical trench warfare. While working along at a humming pace, the ER staff struggles to maintain the status quo. Lo! With episodic suddenness, catastrophe will surge in over the parapets. Instant pandemonium erupts. The ER teams scramble to halt the onslaught and launch a counteroffensive. This sanguinary, hand-to-hand combat engages the Grim Reaper tooth and nail, sometimes continuing for hours. It is for all or nothing: the victim(s) either live or die. Alas, if the battle is lost, it ends with a decided suddenness. The frantic shouting and scurrying ceases. The defenders, en masse, silently withdraw from the scene, leaving a stillness. The resuscitation tubes and fluid lines remain indwelling in the victim(s). EKG pasties still adorn their chests. All must remain as it was at that moment of pronounced surrender, until the coroner arrives and puts his/her cachet on the conflict’s circumstance and outcome. Only then is this defeat officially recorded.
These bloody clashes play out repeatedly, shift after shift, in myriad hospital emergency rooms. Immediately following each, winners or losers, the involved personnel must turn at once to other patients, to other tasks, to other thoughts. Oh, how elating is the joy of these victories. But how bitter is the taste of defeat.
After a nightshift when and where I had been a general who suffered a lost as above, I arrived home feeling the need to indite. My effort proved purply melodramatic, but let it serve as it was intended: one participant's heartfelt account of this particularly consuming variant of trench warfare.
AN ODE TO ASCENSION
In this sanguinary grotto she lies;
her nudity fluorescently illumed;
her stillness immured mid gelid escarpments
of tutelary gimmickry
stuffed with microchips, transistors, and varicolored wires.
O'er a frigid chasm she lies,
(after bedlam and frenzy,
after resignation and capitulation)
luridly stultified by bestial legerdermain:
limpid tubing through her frozen yawn
exits her vulva as saffron opaque.
Under some loveless quietus she lies.
Moribund, her chilled bare bosom felt feverish massage
from impassioned hands in succession.
Still meretriciously adorned with conducive pasties, coaxing,
she now excites but lugubrious panting.
Within her halcyon sanctuary she lies,
(immunity irrevocable from this dimension's evocation),
uncaring of the many purpled venous breaches
on her sallow limbs and neck (aborted or utilized)
to futilely imbue restorative elixirs of varying hues.
On that sterile, bleached linen she lies,
pulseless inertia complete, except for gravity's
pertinacious dripping ooze
down dangling vinyl flumes suffusing her yet
from disgorging bags abloat,
perched high like incontinent vultures.
Midst eternity's anteroom she lies,
staring heavenward through glaze, unseeing,
elevated nakedly quiescent, sans a modicum of shame,
on her burnished steel bier―
an emergent offering to the gods.