ICU – The True Heroes

By Rodney Mazinter

A capsule of pain and fear − or an airlock waiting for travellers to pass

Through to a place they’re loath to enter.

Are there those among us, who care enough to bring them back?

Surgeon, physician, anaesthetist, tend those brought low by illness,

Or worse, by bullet, knife or car, victims of those weaned on hatred,

Or simply disease.

Across the way in a darkened room,

A man struggles to bring his pulse down and his blood pressure up.

A woman whose teary eyes still hold the captured images of visitors

Lies dying of the illness of old age

A breathing aid clamped firmly to her face.

Down the line of serried beds a man cries out incoherently−

It is a high-pitched supplication of dread, pain and pleading.

Is he talking to God?

Monitors, those Argus-eyed guardians

Blink codes and messages to those trained to read them.

Through all this, doctors and nursing staff meander among the beds

Performing minor miracles, like a team of lifeguards constantly on duty,

Ready to pluck a sinking life from the jaws of eternity.

They fight the battle and mostly win

Without a care for their own safety,

Nary a murmur of complaint.

But there is no triumphant parade with flags waving,

And boastful thumbs stuck in lapels.

There is no time for that−a new patient is wheeled in.

There are ventilators to set, and veins to pierce,

And all focus is on the never-ending stream of humanity,

On the road to recovery, if not survival.

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