The Color of Their Eyes
I leave at sunrise to make my way
home through yawning streets.
Night melts into morning,
taking me in the dissolving;
leaving me warmed with
the memories of their eyes.
Nurses don’t take the carnage
of the Emergency Room,
the heralding sounds of birth, or
the secret smell of death to their beds.
They take the hope and truth
of their lives as
they have seen it mirrored
in their patients’ eyes.
Find their strength in the trusting
blue of the child who
struggles for every breath.
Face their own fears in the road
map red of the alcoholic
widened by fear the demons
of delirium tremors invade
his world and his mind.
Recognize their own frailty in the
shadowed gray of the aged woman
who clings to your hand crying,
“Mother, mother, why
won’t you come to me?” And you
bend close to whisper, “Sleep dear,
I’m here with you.”
Renew their beginning in the
liquid brown of the young father
who smiles at you over
the downy head of his
These memories we take to our bed
to touch the lives who have
touched ours and warm
ourselves when cold doubts of
“Why do I do this?” creep
into our bones.
Doubts that melt in the warmth
of the deepest part of the soul,
the very marrow that
lulls us to sleep with the answer. . .
“Because I’m a nurse.”
Phyllis A. Gallagher McNatt, BSN, BA, RNC
Nursing Administration, Riverside Tappahannock Hospital
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