Oh, My Little One
Oh, my little one,
you lived your few days
in an incubator, the better
to assist your survival.
We held you, but oh,
so seldom. Mostly I sat
at your side and watched
your incredible struggle;
hands grasping the tubes,
tugging and pulling at those
wretched contraptions, while
secretly I cheered you on.
That everlasting pause,
as the vicar,
elderly and perplexed studied
the tiny opening through which
he would drop the tiniest dribble
of blessed water to your forehead:
and signed the cross in the thin air
above you. All was rushed, yet all
was still as still. The next morning
they flew you to the big city, the
amazing hospital of modern miracles:
your little body opened but nothing
could be done. Where should be
a left ventricle of your heart, you
had little, valves awry. Today the
miracles increase; but not then.
This year it will be fifty since you
were born and died within a few days.
There are times, my son when it feels
like yesterday. And we are wont to say
the dead look down on us. Oh, my
little one, are you there?
Benita H. Kape © 3.4.2017
This took place in New Zealand. A few days previously the first ever heart replacement operation had taken place in Sout Africa. My husband and I were saying to each other ‘If only we had a spare heart to give’. It was forty years before I would learn that the left ventricle had never fully developed though I did know of valve malfunction at the time. Sometimes they thought that was sufficient information.