A Sunny Room at Mount Sinai, 1955

Mount Sinai Hospital. My mother lay
in a good corner room with lots of sun.
The surgeon traced the steps of her death dance.
A soldier then, I’d flown in from France
where in Périgueux’s children’s ward, one day
I saw a young girl in a coma. Sun
came through glass walls; the child was beautiful,
her face freshened with youth. Only inside
the cancer stormed. I saw the nun place wool
soaked in cold alcohol on her. She died
that afternoon. My mother’s gown was loose
and she told us the awful things they’d done
when testing her downstairs. I see her eyes
today. She too was fresh and live. Some juice
lay undrunk by her pillow. A surprise
of pain. I left the room and she was gone. 

From Mexico In My Heart: New And Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2015) by Willis Barnstone. Copyright © 2015 by Willis Barnstone. Used with the permission of the author.