I don’t want to be a martyr
But I see you calling for my help
Confusion beyond words
I try not to gasp at the wrong conclusions
Cry at our government in rage
Attempt to stay positive on my Facebook page
Because I cannot be a martyr
Although I was trained to be your saving grace
I’ve held hands with the dying
Looked their families in the face
When I say “they’re gone”
Assure them you didn’t suffer
I dare not be your martyr
My youngest would barely utter
Memories of us if the worst were to pass
I’m home praying for help
But my faith won’t last
Because I know I can help you
I know I can give you 4 weeks
I know I’m being arrogant
But in my arrogance at least
I want to help
Powerless is one thing most nurses say they felt
But there are simply no words for this
I’m in my small town living life in bliss
While my counterpart is comforting the dying
Risking her life daily trying
Because she don’t give a damn about being a martyr
This guilty privilege I choose to bear
Sending prayers out to those who will stare
At the face of a stranger as they take their last breath
I’m not a martyr
Therefore I guess I will just sit here and wonder
What I could have done

Copyright © 2022 by Ashanti Files. This poem originally appeared in Northern New England Review. Used with permission of the author.