Does the soul linger

Does the soul linger
after the last heart beat?
Does it uncover the lines
and cords
strewn on the body—
slide the half
gown aside—
flush on its way over
an exposed old breast—
then drift across
the limbs
to slip shyly to the ground
where rubber gloves
and wrappers
lie limp?

Or does the soul push
violently back—
jabbing and slugging—
swinging wildly
against the chest wall
once our palms withdraw
for retreat?
Rabid for air—
averse to rancor—
does it rush through
the throat to escape
only to break
like a wave onto a rock
when it hits a
plastic tube?

Or does the soul gaze
through the half-closed
eyes of a frozen
head turned
at the nurses and
doctors who walk away—
see the hand that grazes
a sister's shoulder then
grabs a chart
to note some thing
that expired?
Does it swell and croon
when its family members
cup their mouths
and hesitate
to touch or stand away?

And what about the soul
alone when sick?

Does the soul examine
the two residents standing
by the door—
gaping at the green line
on a black screen?
Does that soul
wonder what
could have been done—
what could have been done?
Or wonder
if a stranger’s prayer
can fill an empty room?

To palm the hidden and the deep—
we saw it fold inside its body—

because once we turn away
it will detach and crumble like a leaf—
and when the curtain's drawn—
scuttle in the wind
  1. Advanced cardiovascular life support video – Colloquially known as a “code blue,” ACLS is a set of interventions we employ as a team in the hospital when the patient loses pulse. Medical students participate in chest compressions while residents learn how to perform required procedures and eventually lead the “code.”
  2. Advance Directives – “Between 2000 and 2006, many elderly Americans needed decision making near the end of life at a time when most lacked the capacity to make decisions. Patients who had prepared advance directives received care that was strongly associated with their preferences.”
  3. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2013 Update A Report From the American Heart Association – “Chan et al demonstrated that rates of survival to discharge were lower for black patients (25.2%) than for white patients (37.4%) after in-hospital cardiac arrest. Lower rates of survival to discharge for blacks reflected lower rates of both successful resuscitation (55.8% versus 67.4%) and postresuscitation survival (45.2% versus 55.5%).”
  4. A resident — is a physician (with an M.D. or D.O.) who who practices medicine usually in a hospital or clinic under the direct or indirect supervision of an attending physician.
  5. Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich — “Also in this revelation He showed a little thing, the size of a hazel nut in the palm of my hand, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: “What can this be?” And it was generally answered thus: “It is all that is made.” I marveled how it could continue, because it seemed to me it could suddenly have sunk into nothingness because of its littleness.”
  6. Apokálypsis — to disclose, reveal, uncover; like a curtain or veil that is lifted

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