reflects on a
POEM by CHRIS HEWITT
I love Chris Hewitt's
poem "The Lifting Team." It is deceptively simple in
it's construction and almost conversational in tone, but so beautiful.
THE LIFTING TEAM
Recently in the hospital,
and in great pain
from broken bones
after an accident,
I had to be lifted:
bed to gurney, gurney to
x-ray table (brutally hard) table to chair.
Each time they sent for the Lifting
Solomon, built like a football-player with
a wide smile, and Merwin, smaller, agile,
a savvy bird. Each time Solomon would say,
(seeing the tenseness of fear on my face),
"Don't worry, you'll be alright."
Indeed, their arms held me in a firm cocoon,
I never felt the slightest pain.
When in death's last delirium,
I shall call on the Lifting Team.
They will arrive as angels at my bedside,
and Solomon will say, "Don't worry, you'll be alright."
And they will halt my ghastly nose-dive into hell,
and lift me up, up, high up
into the fields of stars.
that everyone who's had an extended hospital stay or becomes a repeat
visitor has a similar story of compassion. Chris took his experience
and made art from it.
Chris's poem again made me recall a hospital experience of my own.
When I was in Kaiser, recovering from meningitis, the blood-letting
staff were not able to use my right arm to retrieve samples, due
to the recent surgery to remove clots from the arteries leading
to my hand. After repeated attempts to locate viable veins in my
left arm, the skin was bruised and sore.
I was visited by a tehnician in the disguise of Patti Labelle. This
black angel had hair sculpted in several unlikely directions. Her
nails were long and jungle red. Her sweater was resplendent with
faux pearls and golden thread that meandered across her ample bosom.
I guess because she was so fabulous, so outrageous, I took an instant
liking to her.
her that I would whimper, maybe even cry, because the attempt to
find uncollapsed veins required incessant poking and I was worn-out
from the process. I understood she was simply doing her job. I pleaded
with her to ignore my undignified whining.
"Baby, I wouldn't hurt you. Turn your head." I did as she requested
and offered my bruised and atrophied left arm. A minute later I
begged her to get on with it. Anticipating the pain was making me
crazy. She said, "Honey, I'm all done," and offered me a vial of
scarlet liquid as proof. I never thought to ask her name. I expected
(I hoped) to see her from that day forward. But I never saw her
the Solomons, Merwins, and all the sweet, careful, IV technicians
that populate our hospitals, who, in the face of constant human
suffering, can still remain watchful in each and every case. And
I am grateful that Chris Hewitt described their intersection with
our lives so eloquently.
© 2005 Steven
"The Lifting Team" © 2005 Estate of Christopher Hewitt
Chris Hewitt Photograph © 1985 Barbara Loudis
other contributions to BENT: Five-Finger
Exercise and Learning to Look
All Over Again.
Note: Chris Hewitt died in 2004. Here are links to the writing he
published in BENT.
the Beach, Venice, California
The Enticing Lane
The Favorite Place
The Lifting Team
What Brains Are For
a Good Father Should
The Blaspheming Moon: A Play in Three
Mightier than the Mouth
Moonlight Sonata: A Love Story
Sticks and Stones
A Journal of CripGay Voices/September 2005