Hospital Writing Workshop

Rafael Campo

 
Arriving late, my clinic having run
past 6 again, I realize I donít
have cancer, donít have HIV, like them,
these students who are patients, who I lead
in writing exercises, reading poems.
For them, this isnít academic, itís
reality:  I ask that they describe
an object right in front of them, to make
it come alive, and one writes about death,
her death, as if by just imagining
the softness of its skin, its panting rush
into her lap, that she might tame it; one
observes instead the love he lost, heís there,
beside him in his gown and wheelchair,
together finally again.  I take
a good, long breath; weíre quiet as newborns.
The little conference room grows warm, and right
before my eyes, I see that what I thought
unspeakable was more than this, was hope.
 
Copyright © 2014 by Rafael Campo. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on January 3, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Poems by This Author

Health by Rafael Campo
While jogging on the treadmill at the gym
Love Song for Love Songs by Rafael Campo
A golden age of love songs and we still
The Distant Moon by Rafael Campo
Admitted to the hospital again.


Further Reading

Poems About Illness
Kaddish, Part I
by Allen Ginsberg
A Litany in Time of Plague
by Thomas Nashe
Afternoon at MacDowell
by Jane Kenyon
Against Elegies
by Marilyn Hacker
Anxieties
by Donna Masini
Auld Lang Syne
by Jennifer L. Knox
Beasts
by Carmen Gimťnez Smith
Bedside
by William Olsen
Breathing
by Josephine Dickinson
Christmas Away from Home
by Jane Kenyon
Cognitive Deficit Market
by Joshua Corey
Evening
by Gail Mazur
Everyone Gasps with Anxiety
by Jeni Olin
Having it Out with Melancholy
by Jane Kenyon
Her Body Like a Lantern Next to Me
by John Rybicki
In Memory of W. B. Yeats
by W. H. Auden
Losing It
by Margaret Gibson
Mastectomy
by Wanda Coleman
Phases
by Michael Redhill
Prayer for Sleep
by Cheryl Dumesnil
R.I.P., My Love
by Tory Dent
Sick
by Shel Silverstein
The Embrace
by Mark Doty
The Land of Counterpane
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Nurse
by Michael Blumenthal
The Sick Child
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Sick Rose
by William Blake
The Subalterns
by Thomas Hardy
The Transparent Man
by Anthony Hecht
The Visit
by Jason Shinder
To Amy Lowell
by Eunice Tietjens
Tubes
by Donald Hall
Units
by Albert Goldbarth
Visits to St. Elizabeths
by Elizabeth Bishop
Waking in the Blue
by Robert Lowell
When I Consider How My Light Is Spent
by John Milton
More Like This
On Poetry and Craft [excerpt]
by Theodore Roethke
All She Wrote
by Harryette Mullen
An Exhortation
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Anybody Can Write a Poem
by Bradley Paul
Dawn
by James Laughlin
Dear J.
by Kazim Ali
Ephemeral Stream
by Elizabeth Willis
Epistle: Leaving
by Kerrin McCadden
Friend,
by Jean Valentine
From Trance Notebook #2 [nerdy questions about exact pitch]
by Wayne Koestenbaum
In Portraits in Seasons
by Danielle Pafunda
In the old days a poet once said
by Ko Un
Inert Perfection
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Language
by W. S. Merwin
Leo Said
by Eileen Myles
Light (an Ars Poetica)
by Michael Cirelli
Lines on Nonsense
by Eliza Lee Follen
Night School
by Micah Ballard
Night Theater
by Meena Alexander
Poetry
by Marianne Moore
Poetry
by Amy Lowell
Poetry
by Monica Ferrell
Poetry
by Alfred Kreymborg
Poetry is
by Emilio Villa
Potentially Interesting & Secretly Devastating
by Tina Brown Celona
Q & A
by Terence Winch
Render, Render
by Thomas Lux
Scandal
by Lola Ridge
Sky Burial
by Ron Koertge
so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski
Te Deum
by Charles Reznikoff
The Bear
by Galway Kinnell
The Gift
by Chard deNiord
The Language of Love
by Rodney Jones
The Novel as Manuscript
by Norman Dubie
The Politics of Narrative: Why I Am A Poet
by Lynn Emanuel
Time Study
by Marvin Bell
To a Young Poet
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
What He Thought
by Heather McHugh
what it means to be avant-garde [excerpt]
by David Antin
While Writing
by Noelle Kocot
Why Poetry Can Be Hard For Most People
by Dorothea Lasky