Lois the Poet

During my ER shift today, in room 10, there was a thin homeless woman. She was covered in a film of grime, but she had a beatific smile. “My feet hurt, doctor,” she told me. “I’ve been walking a lot, looking for sanctuary. The government has been trying to steal my creativity for years, but I’ve been guarding my poems. They want to kill me for my poems, but I won’t let them.”

She was holding a small notebook with a beautiful flowery cover, in shades of pink and magenta. She was writing on the creamy pages in small, neat cursive. As far as I could tell, it was her only possession that was not filthy.

“That’s so cool that you write poetry,” I told her. “That will be your legacy.”

“Yes!” She beamed. “How nice that you understand!”

I examined her. Her feet were sore, and blistered, but nothing more. She looked healthy, and at peace. “Do you want to see our psychiatric team?” I asked her.

“Oh, no, I don’t need them,” she replied. “I’m fine.”

“Would you like a shower?”

“That would be great!”

“Would you like a meal?”

“That would be lovely.”

“Would you like something for pain, for your feet?”

“That would be wonderful.”

“Is there anything else we can do for you?”

“No, that sounds just perfect. That’s all I need.”

“It was nice to meet you. You are a beautiful soul,” I said, and turned to go.

“Doctor, would you like me to read you a poem?”

“I would like that more than anything, but I have patients waiting to see me. Maybe I’ll come back in a bit, after I get caught up, and you could read me one then?”

“Would you like me to write one for you while you go see those other patients?”

“That would be fantastic if you would write a poem for me! Thank you so much.”

“Do you want to pick a topic, or should I just look into your soul?”

“I would love it if you would look into my soul,” I said, and I meant it.

Thirty minutes later, she passed me in the hall as she was walking with a nurse to the discharge area.

“Doctor,” she smiled, “Here is the poem I wrote for you.”

She handed me an unblemished, creamy page, torn from her notebook.

On it was this poem:

For Mercys Foot Doctor

Today a foot doctor approached me

She seemed to have a halo that

said you at this moment are

the exact right company

We talked a little bit about

my legacy

And I said I hope in the

future for the doctor and

the patient it can be a

great game of candy

kiss monopoly called

a glory story of poetry

Of course she admired my

filthy dirt

She said congradulations you

have been promoted to

Grade A Self Worth

She said simply all you

need is a shower

And you will have unlimitless

Candy kiss flower power

By Lois


At the bottom of the page it said:

“I will be seeking Sanctuary

Until the right person shows

me my gods mercy.”

“This is a great poem,” I told her. “You have made my day.”

And then I showed the poem to the nurses, and I put it in my pocket, and I told the people I love most about it. I read it to my family at dinner. And then I said to them, “I have the best job in the world.”

Valerie Norton, MD