Infant Pueumonia
—a poem by Cheryl Gatling

Infant Pneumonia

She wouldn’t suck. She wouldn’t cuddle.
Her eyes rolled toward me, then away again.
I hugged her to my chest and ran
from the doctor’s office to the X-ray lab.
There they jammed her into a plastic tube
with her arms above her head,
still in her white T-shirt, crying.
“That’s good,” the technician said.
“It expands the lungs.”
When they handed her back,
I wouldn’t lay her down again.
I slept that night in a chair,
holding her up to keep her throat clear.
In sudden, sharp focus, I cherished it all:
the sweaty spikes of her damp hair,
the rattling vibrations of every death.
I hold no moments more precious than these,
the nearly unbearable,
a pain so pure, it was almost like happiness.

Cheryl Gatling is a registered nurse in Syracuse, New York, but "Infant Pneumonia" is not about the experiences of a nurse. It is about the experiences of a mother. Check out one of Cheryl Gatling's poems that made into a multi-media presentation at (Enter Gatling into the archives.)

* "Infant Pneumonia" was first published by The Sun. Permission to republish granted by the author.