Letter From Luke

October 13, 2016

He wrote that he didn’t know what to say to comfort us, so he decided to describe the view from his rented room near Sydney...

    -received while waiting for trauma surgery, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai, China

He wrote that he didn’t know what to say

to comfort us, so he decided to describe

the view from his rented room near Sydney-

a dark green mango ripening on the sill,

eucalyptus lining a footpath to the beach,

their medicinal cedar scent drifting in,

white noise from wind and waves, surfers

riding six foot swells. We read as if

he was seated beside us, and his words

soothed like sounds from the sea.

They say doctors learn best from their own

spilled blood, and when we finally flew home,

shattered, exhausted, hopeful, screwed

back together, I kept the letter in my white

coat pocket, a reminder to sit beside patients

and look out the hospital window with them,

like my first morning back at work on Rehab,

a guy my age healing from his own crash,

a basket of pears on the sill, Mt Greylock

owning the view, sharp sunlight scattered

from city windows, the ER team racing

to each screaming ambulance, hustling

stretchers toward hope, fall’s blush

in the maples, firebush in the courtyard

glowing red as a Chinese lantern.