Jellyfish Olympics

There are wires and cords
that stretch out, 
hang dangling
from the hospital bed,
the transparent filigree 
of a floating jellyfish.
One leads to the phone
to order food. 
One leads to the TV, so we can stare at
cooking shows with delicacies not available here.
One leads to compression wraps
for your vulnerable legs.
Another leads to the IV ports 
in your bruised, crepe-skinned arm.

In between your long spells of sleeping
and my knitting, 
we enjoy the pretend competition
of the contestants cooking.
We marvel at how quickly 
they move about the kitchen.
I marvel even more at your careful movements
and the miracle of progress after your fall.
We count the steps you take
as if you are skipping stones—
any number makes you a winner. 
You fight for everyday markers of strength,
your efforts a perfect ten.
This is the Olympics of rehabilitation.

Cotton gown diamond patterns 
become your fashion.
We look out the window as day becomes night.
Another day passes 
in the goldfish bowl of recovery,
a blue ribbon day of taking five steps 
just to turn around
and walk back to the bed.

Copyright © 2021 by Cristina M. R. Norcross. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.