In the prelight
A heavy sound from upstairs
I turn from the front door
My three-year-old son stands
in the soft penumbra of dimmed hallway light
Clutching his favorite blanket
picture book and well-rubbed panther
to his chest.
His toes curl on the wooden floor.
I am dressed and beepered --
No snuggling in the warm water bed this morning
floating back to sleep till sunlight wakens.
Instead, we hug.
his thin neck.
I feel his small breaths.
His bedroom door stands closed,
heavy in shadows.
At the operating suite,
The residents still at lecture
The patient not yet here,
I enjoy the rote motions --
follow the green snake tubing to the ceiling
barbotage dissolving drugs into syringes
snap open the laryngoscope.
Around me all is bright pristine ordered
Sterile instruments attend in precise, metallic rows.
I try to recall his just awakened warmth
in that brief moment
Naked under hospital issue
Ready to sleep.
by Audrey Shafer