by on April 17, 2009 :: 0 comments

Late at night, when I’m tired and depleted,
my soul ripping and bleeding after seeing
my last patient,

I rest for a few empty, mindless minutes
before my long trek home.
For I wear the wounded souls of my patients.

I need time to strip naked.
I need quiet time.

After clocking out with my wrinkled right hand,
still clutching the day’s darkness,
I cross the dark street

and wait for the 39 bus, across from the nursing
Yet often, I walk one block to the 36. And I wait.

Eventually, I leave the Bronx community health center
behind, and take the 36 or 39 to Parkchester, and the
6 train to 125th Street.

In the train, I tell myself I’m leaving my traumatized
patients behind.

Once on the train, I meditate and try to cleanse the chaotic
landscape of my psyche. But on my dark journey, a
homeless man appears and all the heavy cares of the day

return. Already, I’ve given too much, I think. Closing my
lacerated eyes, dwellers of the darkness, I obliterate the
tattered man.

At Atlantic Avenue, I transfer to the Q train. And it takes me
home. At Kings Highway, I enter Citibank and someone
slithers in behind me. Turning abruptly,

I see the homeless man clinging to a large, dirty white bag.

Still wearing the wounded souls of my patients and drowning
in a traumatic sea of guilt,
I search for change.

In a minuscule moment, my right hand clutches the loose coins
and removes them from my pants pocket. But when I try to
give the coins to the homeless man,

I discover he’s gone.

Smelling his foul odor, I search the tomblike room, and find him
in a distant corner, covered in dirty blankets, his vacant eyes
peering out at me.

Next to the mound of blankets is an empty tin cup. I drop the
coins in the cup, and for a moment, listen to the stranger snoring.

We’re both spent and it’s time to sleep and dream of a better
world. A container of the day’s darkness, I breathe heavily
and saunter off into the night.

I’m heading home.

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