My day job is tough. You see people at their most vulnerable on a daily basis, and you're often spread too thin to do much more than the basic duties assigned to you. Last night I braided a woman's hair. The most loathed patient on the unit by the rest of the staff, a headstrong, self-respecting and demanding frail figure, she began to tell me little secrets of her life as soon as she noticed I would listen. I stayed half an hour past my shift to comb and weave her silver hair and she told me that she was a also a musician, she played the fiddle, and had been a piano teacher. None of the other staff would have believed me if I told them the things I knew about her, they all had a picture of her that couldn't be painted in color. Last night, I knew that I wouldn't be on the schedule for that facility again for a couple of months. I couldn't stop thinking about her, on the drive home, and as I tried to unwind in the wee hours of the morning, I wrote her a song without music. I've changed her name to protect her privacy.
The Home (Suzanne)
THE HARDENED HEARTS OF the calloused masses
stamping their cards, stampeding the halls,
numb to the blinding pain of their charge,
herding the hurting to dining room troughs.
Lightening quick and slow as molasses,
the ghostly parade of sickly shadows--
Trading visages, and voices, then names
for numbers and figures and diagnoses.
It took half an hour to braid your hair.
The recess bell rang before I began,
and I stayed to comb and weave your locks.
Told you I was the singer in a band.
You played the piano and the violin
when your legs could stand and your fingers bend;
And you left California for the state we’re in
to be a goat farmer with your, now late, husband
We'll find the heart in everything.
You and me, we are
flecks of gold in the sand
in the bottom of the river bed.
We’ll never amount to anything--
the dirt in your nails,
the dreams in my head.
I wish I could take you home with me,
for home is just around the bend,