My First Patient

Contributor
Physical Therapy

Your head is wrapped in sheets of cloth.
I have never seen your eyes
But I do wonder what your eyes have seen.

I do not know if I can ever look you in the eyes.

As I touch your hand,
Muscles interweave one over the other —
I wonder whose hands you have held;
Whose arms you have wrapped around and caressed.

Were you someone’s lover?
Were you someone’s grandmother?
Were you someone’s mother,
or
Were you someone’s child?


I do not know why your lungs collapsed
But I am curious what took your breath away;

What made you feel alive?

What were the last words that ever you said?

I ponder who you loved and what you loved —

Encased in layers and layers of tissue,

Resting within the depths of your thoracic cage,
A plethora of flowers could surround your heart
And inhume it in ethereal bliss —

Do the dead miss us as much as
we miss them?

 

I do not know the streets you have walked;
But I am curious where you have lived,
Where you are from,
And where have you been —

Where does the soul wander after death?


My fingers trace over your limbs —

Hands running down the road

Paved by your arteries and veins

Down your long legs,

Crossing bridges of tendons and ligaments,

Which hold your musculature together

Until finally we have reached the fascia of your feet.

So here we are; our paths cross
But I reflect on the paths you have taken throughout your life—

We have come to an end, but is it really the end?

Standing on the 13th floor, lying on a glistening gray table, a portable light shines above us like the sun dawning a new day —
Your life lies within these shaking hands of mine;

My own body trembles before you.

I waver between forgiveness and gratefulness

As my emotions rise and fall like the ocean
Whose waves linger back and forth
Between land and sea.

I place you on a pedestal of knowledge
For it is from you
That I have learned the highest level of humility —


I never thought my first patient would be you.
 

Thank you —
Thank you for granting me permission
To explore
The intimacies of your body
That you may not have shared with anyone else.
The anatomy of your body may be temporary
But your presence and soul will linger eternally
Within the halls of my mind for a lifetime.