Lost in the Hospital

By Rafael Campo b. 1964 Rafael Campo
It’s not that I don’t like the hospital.
Those small bouquets of flowers, pert and brave.
The smell of antiseptic cleansers.
The ill, so wistful in their rooms, so true.
My friend, the one who’s dying, took me out
To where the patients go to smoke, IV’s
And oxygen in tanks attached to them—
A tiny patio for skeletons. We shared
A cigarette, which was delicious but
Too brief. I held his hand; it felt
Like someone’s keys. How beautiful it was,
The sunlight pointing down at us, as if
We were important, full of life, unbound.
I wandered for a moment where his ribs
Had made a space for me, and there, beside
The thundering waterfall of his heart,
I rubbed my eyes and thought, “I’m lost.”

Rafael Campo, “Lost in the Hospital” from What The Body Told, published by Duke University Press. Copyright © 1996 by Rafael Campo. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc.

Source: What The Body Told (Duke University Press, 1996)

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Poet Rafael Campo b. 1964

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Health & Illness, Death, The Body, Relationships, Friends & Enemies

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

 Rafael  Campo

Biography

Rafael Campo is a poet and essayist who teaches and practices internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Campo earned a BA and MA from Amherst College and an MD from Harvard Medical School. His primary care practice serves mostly Latinos, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people, and people with HIV infection. Campo is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, Death, The Body, Relationships, Friends & Enemies

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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