Lay Down Sally (Podcast)

September 20, 2012

As a consultation liaison psychiatrist, one of his assignments was to work on a renal dialysis unit to determine whether or not a patient was competent to opt out of treatment.

Lay Down Sally

Dying on dialysis
I've known him
since my first days as a doctor,

and now he wants to quit.
I've been called
to write the sentence

that says he understands
the meaning of "no."
Seated on the corner of his bed,

I test him with questions
until Eric Clapton comes on the radio
picking "Lay Down Sally,"

and I drift off, thinking
this is one more riff I'll never master.
Though my white coat touches his gown,

he sees I'm gone and calls me back:
Remember when Clapton was God?
And we're in the days of Blind Faith,

comparing calluses on our fingertips
hardened from playing "Layla,"
and we agree dying is easier

than learning guitar. Yeah, he laughs,
you don't even need to practice.
We talk music as he fades,

his breathing soft as a gentle strum.
A nurse hangs morphine(Drug information on morphine).
I write my blue notes.

For more on this poem, click here.