I saw an old fighter tied to his bed.
It was late at night and I couldn't sleep so I went to the emergency ward, not because I was sick, but I needed to get better. I needed to see the realness of human suffering. Not the way they die in movies--bright white skin, beautiful hair; the wide eyes of those who are loved and who can love back. I needed to see the hurt in others. Those who suffer their whole lives and who die alone. I needed to touch them. Comfort them. I wanted my sleeplessness to go away.
The old man tried to lift his frail body. His eyes were vacant. His mind was gone. No one was at his bedside. I saw him clench his fist and roll his shoulders as if he were trying to throw a combination of punches but the ropes knotted around his wrists held him back.
I said to the nurse: "Who's that?"
He said: "Some old club fighter from the fifties. He's punch drunk. He keeps thinking he's back in the ring. Stupid sport, if you ask me."
The nurse went to his bed side and pulled the ropes tighter. I heard the old man give a painful grunt.
"I thought you were maybe a relative?" The nurse asked me.
"No," I said.
"Then you don't belong here. You gotta go."
"Sure," I said. "I couldn't sleep, that's all. I'm no relative."
I walked out of the ward of the dying and rolled my shoulders. I was no fighter, but I threw a few small punches and thought: "What a stupid sport. What a stupid sport that nursing is--to tie an old man to his bed and no one knows your name."
Poems of the Week ~ The Whale Heard Around the World
19 hours ago