The 18 poems in this chapbook (26 pages) focus on caring relationships, especially between nurse and patient. In "Standing There" the poet admits that "our history isn't an album of healers." There is little to be triumphant about in the world of nursing and medicine: "Our story is how we did not break / and run--no matter how close / the lightning gouged." In "Blue Lace Socks" she evokes a nurse beside the bed of a dying child, "listening for the whisper of her blood pressure."

"Butterfly," a poem about caring for young men with AIDS, is characterized by honesty and sensitivity: "They cough as I enter their room, / and something in me stiffens." Yet, the nurse is able to close the gap between herself and the patients and demonstrate her care: "they are migrating back to the cocoon, / the place where brown masks / protect the unbeautiful." Some of the other poems deal just as sensitively with the explosive topics of childhood sexual abuse ("Taste of Tin") and rape ("This Red Oozing"). Blue Lace Socks", Butterfly, and This Red Oozing have been annotated in this database.


This is a fine collection of poems demonstrating the possibility of bridging the distance between ill person and caregiver. The nurse becomes a companion, a witness who speaks out forcefully from the experience of suffering. She gives us these poems out of her need to share: "what I cannot bear to carry / alone / in this world." Two of these poems ("Butterfly" and "Blue Lace Socks"), along with many other fine poems by nurses, appear in the anthology Between the Heartbeats: Poetry and Prose by Nurses, edited by Cortney Davis and Judy Schaefer (see this database).


Kent State Univ. Press

Place Published

Kent, Ohio