he coughs

he coughs

September 1974

my five-pound son
isn’t right
I take him out
in sunlight to get
a better look
washed out, too pale
a little cough
mama’s instinct
am I wrong?
call his doctor—
he’s out of town
come in, his nurse says
right now
she must be staring
at his thickening chart
scrawled words about
his malformed heart

this new doctor,
a colleague I just met
so intent
her scope presses
to his straining chest
she listens there and here
then there again
twenty minutes
of charged air
she pulls out ear tips
purses her lips
he needs the cardiologist
I stare—we’re scheduled
10 a.m.
she shakes her head,
no, now

2023 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—not final versions.

7 thoughts on “he coughs

  1. Yivke

    Dearest Amrita how tender and precious your picture .
    How fragile your words.
    Love from my heart to yours .

    Never forgetting our golden time with Elias and our Open Pathgroup at Spanjeburd Holland



  2. Oh! What a poem with such tension that builds from the first mention of “washed out, too pale, / a little cough” to the last line. I worry when I read “malformed heart” at the end of the first stanza, and even more when I get to “no, now.” Beautifully done!


    1. Thank you, Jan. These poems about my son, who will be 49 in August, are tough—tougher than the memoir I wrote about the same time span. I think it is because poems are so spare—then there it is, in all of its raw, what, beauty?


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