Unwind, unwrap, unfetter without fuss

The clotted blood, the inspissated pus.

Give healing room; grant air a fighting chance.

Swab softly and forfend the avid lance.

She never hurries, and we do not flinch.

God be with you, Sister, inch by inch.

Our honored surgeon cleansed, debrided, closed

And left the puzzle sundered tissue posed

To Sister and the body’s wisdom, sure

That what he’d left them they have skill to cure.


The afternoon has brightened.  Through the blinds

Alert, disinterested sunshine finds

Clean bandages, white gauze, fresh four-by-fours,

Sweet-scented new bed linen, shining floors.


We thank you, Sister, and now that you’ve done it

Please gather all the foul debris—and gun it.

—Barry Gault

Published in the 2011-10-21 issue: View Contents
Barry Gault is a psychiatrist in private practice in Newton, Massachusetts.
Also by this author
© 2024 Commonweal Magazine. All rights reserved. Design by Point Five. Site by Deck Fifty.