Perhaps, like me, you live in a town, rather than a city or poor rural area, and assume that things are like they used to be at your local emergency hospital. That's what I assumed, if I thought about it at all. Five hours in the emergency room with a friend (she's fine now) has cleared up that misconception.
I shot that sign, above, during our wait. The sign says -- for those who can't see the image --
Thank you for your patience. The Emergency Department is experiencing unusually high patient volumes. This is causing delays.
It certainly is.
For the entire time, I kept hoping, not only that my friend would be seen soon, but that the man across from us, his hand held up and wrapped in ice, had at least been given something for pain. Something more than ice.
I asked: Why? Why are you seeing so many more patients?
Because, I was told, so many more people are without insurance, and have nowhere else to go.
Do you think health care reform is irrelevant to your life?
If so, you are mistaken.
[By the way, the 911 folks were wonderful. What a great job!
UPDATE: Here, courtesy of RCH, is the poet's version of the poem, with line breaks: Praise Song for the Day. This version, though, is copywrighted, so I don't feel comfortable posting it here -- even though it seems to me that this poem, of any, should belong to any of us.
So below is the transcript from the New York Times:
* ~ *
Praise Song for the Day
Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching
each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is
noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of
our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a
hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of
Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."
We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then
others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know
there's something better down the road."
We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the
dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the
bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the
glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for
every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial,
national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need
to preempt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.
* ~ *
This is from the NYT transcript; I don't know whether the poet's own version has more line breaks. It may.
Already I've seen that some find it too prosaic; they wanted something with more grandeur. I quite like it.