Collective Unrest

 

Last Rites at the Public Hospital’s ER

March 26, 2019

That afternoon, I accompanied my cousin Dante, on his hospital wheelchair as we waited for a doctor to tend to his sprained ankle, when they wheeled in a 40ish man, half-naked, brown skin perforated with a dozen stab wounds, laid on the cot unmoving and with eyes half-open + (An emaciated woman in ragged clothes, weary and perhaps drained of grief, was in tow along with the attendant nurses +)

Everybody in that room, including and most especially the medical staff, needed not be an omniscient god to know dead certain that that man was DOA; supine, a sacrifice splayed in the middle of the miserable commune of broke, broken patients and their faithful companions who were intermittently bombarded and stirred by a steady stream of afflictions +

The just-delivered patient’s appearance, grimy skin plastered on uneven muscularity, intimated of backbreaking labor and/or destitution + His salt-and-pepper hair appeared unwashed and disheveled, and most likely already in that fashion immediately prior to the fatal crime + (He was as he was but, showcased there under the cold and indifferent glare of the hospital lights, multiply-impaled and just-expired +)

Still, the young and porcelain-skinned pixie doctor in her immaculate white coat attended to him with clinical urgency + With two male nurses assisting, she performed CPR; her delicate hands, left wrist adorned with a shiny and equally delicate silver watch, pumped repeatedly on the unresponsive chest + Two more sets of the exercise in futility and they all peeled away, petal by white petal blooming from a dark center +

(It all seemed routinary, yet still a ritual of paying last respects; a frustrated raising of the dead,
but still a commendable attempt at resurrection; a Hippocratic anointing of the sick, perhaps conferring, restoring, sanctifying grace +)

Soon, under the young evening sky, we were about to leave, and as I turned my cuz around on his wheels, with his ankle bandaged, a thought visited my head which prompted me to ask, “In case a fire breaks out, how fast do you think I can push you out?” He replied, “Fire? This ER’s constantly under…+”

 

 

Karlo Sevilla’s poems appear in various literary platforms, and one of them is nominated by Ariel Chart for the 2018 Best of the Net Anthology. A runner-up in Submittable’s 2018 National Poetry Month contest, he currently studies creative writing in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. His poetry collection, “Metro Manila Mammal,” was published by Soma Publishing in May, 2018.

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