A Bedpan for Icarus
by Gabriella Brand
About suffering they were never wrong.
The Old Masters. How well they understood
its human position, how it takes place
when someone else is just scarfing down a burrito,
or adjusting their earbuds.
When my mother lay dying, her heart skipping beats,
her pulse losing rhythm,the nurses stood in the hallway,
outside her room, chatting normally,
taking bets on “Dancing With the Stars”,
ordering Mexican food for dinner.
Mother could have been Icarus, falling
from the sky, Icarus needing a bedpan.
I shook my fist at the nurses through the hospital curtain.
And yet, I should have known, we all turn away, quite leisurely,
from disaster, just as Breughel drew.
We run our eyes down the screen,
clicking even as the typhoon hits
the mosque is bombed, the small child drowns in the Rio Grande.
We hear the splash. We gulp and shake our heads, maybe
mutter a prayer, And then, quite calmly, we move on.
Note: My source is Musée des Beaux Arts by W.H.Auden.
Gabriella Brand’s writing has appeared in over fifty literary magazines. Her most recent work appears this spring in the Gyroscope Review and the Willawau Journal. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
Gabriella divides her time between Connecticut, where she teaches foreign languages and Quebec, where she volunteers with Middle Eastern refugees, runs writing groups, and paddles her own canoe.