Pneumonia at Fifteen Months
In the hospital the nurses wear masks, don’t breathe too loudly. Their shoes squeak and my breath, hot waves on the metal crib bars. Fragile, unyielding. We measure breath by the way it sounds, if it succeeds. Too fast, too slow, to take as if you could keep breath in your hand as if you could give it away. The nurses say pulse ox, oxygen sat. It’s a waste of breath to say saturation. The lungs thick with air soaking. Soaking takes time, he is breathing too fast. How many respirations per minute? I walk across the hall to see the x-ray. See the cloudiness around his heart? The edges of the heart should be sharp. The infection is the blur. In the whir of space before language the nurses shake toys, say things like, Point to Santa, baby. Watch the balloon, little stick, little ouch. Try to sleep with the beep beep. The crying baby next door, thoughts about the cost of my son’s breath, of mine. Dreams of fraying shoe strings, the eerie light before a tornado. My light. My dark pieces and threads. Dreams of a baby not breathing. Blue blinking machines. Blue grids. Leaky ink. Blue ink, blue blood. Watch for blue around the mouth, mama. Here, I have no other name. Here, the facts are my feelings: oxygen saturation at 91, at 92 (the goal for the night). Can’t stop looking at the numbers on the screen. Can’t pull him close to me. I know you might want to but you can’t sleep with him. The cords he’s connected to – are not mine. I try to read but can’t escape the blinking numbers. The facts. Facts that do not make themselves or decisions. Facts I gather, interpret decide how to feel them. Register them in my body, what is making me feel or not feel. Cortisol, adrenaline replace fatigue. Can’t sleep - My son and I are statistics and facts, histories, records in binary code. We are the hospital. The facts of us spilled out on a pull out sofa, on a chart in a numbered room. A thin white blanket I can pull over my head until I disappear, but there is no disappearing. Here, I am collected like a vial of blood.