The heart monitor blares mechanically,
high frequency waves
rolling through ear drums, cochlea,
and finally colliding with nerves
connecting to the brain,
embedding a specific neural pattern
in the memory forever.
Behind lab coat whispers
and clipboard conversations,
behind the soothing therapeutic voices
and informative professional reports,
behind the silent, shaking tears
and somber apologies, it remains,
perhaps the only constant in this strange abode
of medicine, trapezing somewhere
between both in life and death.
Medical staff pay the noise special notice,
when its frequency exhibits abnormal behavior.
End stage cancer, emergency procedures,
Pager bleeps: Patient is coding,
suddenly, the IV fluid rushes
the wrong way and coughs crescendo
in volume while a symphony of voices ensues,
arguing symptoms, relaying orders,
beeps swept under the cacophony.
To fall back on this noise while holding my patient’s hand
is to cling to our humanity, I’m here for you,
a metronome for horsehair sliding across the string
soothing the chaos in a promise.

Roosha (she/her/hers) grew up in the Pittsburgh area. She studied creative writing and biology at Carnegie Mellon University and is currently a medical student in Chicago. For more by Roosha, read “Spice Ain’t White,” her first publication with Sampsonia Way.

This poem is part of our ongoing series exploring isolation, exile, and “The Everyday Pandemic.” Throughout this series it is our hope to capture the daily toll of life through the pandemic from the perspective of writers and artists who are familiar with the experience of isolation or exile. With this in mind we’ve collected stories, poems, nonfiction essays, and digital art from writers and artists from all walks of life and from all around the globe.

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