Honoring All Nurses, a poem and its backstory by Anjum Wasim Dar

Photograph courtesy of Jesoots.com@jeshoots, Unsplash

“It is impossible to describe exactly what I learn, though I know it lies somewhere between science and art. It is all about the smallest details and understanding how they make the biggest difference.”  Christie Watson, The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story



Anjum wrote me that she’d penned this some years ago. It was originally published in the Pakistan Times. She’s dusted it off in light of the current COVID-19 travesties and the heroism of nurses in response. I value her wish to honor those compassionate health care providers who are putting themselves in harms way for the greater good. / J.D.

The day is near its ending
The sun is slowly sinking,
The black veil of night is spreading,
Covering the day’s golden gown

Air outside is cold, but she is ready
With her cap, cape and coat,
Pen and red pencil, her pockets hold,
Pips and buttons shine like gold

For duty she is bound,
To the ward, she makes her way,
To look after the sick in the dark hours
As they rest and sleep till day

Alone, as midnight strikes, she goes
To give patients the medicine due,
Two gulps of a “mixture’
A ‘capsule’ or ‘tablets’ two

Awake alert ready she will be
To ease the pain and all misery
Never tired never with a frown
Comforting all in painful recovery

Darkness gently slips away
Silence prevails, peaceful and holy
Her duty done, she leaves the ward
As dawn approaches, slowly, slowly

Nurse on Duty

One night as I was about to drop off to sleep a sharp pain in my armpit shook me. I almost screamed. I put my hand where I was feeling the pain and my heart missed a beat. There was a hard lump there. 

Terrified, I felt a shiver run down my spine. I realized I was running a fever. Should I wake my mom who was dead tired after a heavy days work.? No, wait, the inner voice said. I don’t remember how I spent the night, my pillow was wet with tears of pain and  fear.  In the morning I was taken to the hospital, a military hospital.  Upon evaluation, surgery was recommended and then followed the most unforgettable eleven days of my life.

On that first day, I was struck by the smiles on the nurses faces, a welcoming smiles, reassuring comforting. “No need to worry all will be well,” said Captain Maryam as she tucked me in. I put my head on the white pillow and noted the red blanket that covered the bed. Red was the official color of the blankets of the military hospital. They gave me a sedative and the nurses smiles were a warming touch as I succumbed to a deep oblivion.

The next day the Operation Theatre Nursing Officer: quick, efficient, deft in her handling,  prepared me by helping me put on the gown and suddenly  I was on the operating table.  Presently in came the Surgeon. Then another man walked in with a mask on his face, the nurse held my hand: “Count till ten” . . .  and at  3 … 4……5…I fell asleep.

Four hours later I came to myself and the same tall nursing officer was leaning over me putting plaster across my chest. She covered me with another red blanket. I felt myself being lifted and carried on a stretcher. The ambulance moved slowly I dozed in and out of consciousness. I  vomited from the anesthesia …lost consciousness and later woke up again vomiting. Dozed again and so it went until . . . I don’t know how many hours passed by.

And so it was the care of the nursing officers of that Military Hospital where I spent eleven days and recovered from my critical operation. I was lucky to have a benign tumor but I was more lucky to be under the loving responsible care of the Nursing Angels who gave me the emotional physical and medical care I needed most.

I wrote a poem for them which I wish  to share. Here I would like to Dedicate this story to all the Brave Nurses of the World in this Pandemic time. Day and night they doing  their duty courageously, risking their lives and I will never forget my time of need.

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

Anjum Wasim Dar

ANJUM WASIM DAR (Poetic Oceans) was born in Srinagar (Indian occupied Kashmir) in 1949. Her family opted for and migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India and she was educated in St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi where she passed the Matriculation Examination in 1964. Anjum ji was a Graduate with Distinction in English in 1968 from the Punjab University, which ended the four years of College with many academic prizes and the All Round Best Student Cup, but she found she had to make extra efforts for the Masters Degree in English Literature/American Studies from the Punjab University of Pakistan since she was at the time also a back-to-college mom with three school-age children.

Her work required further studies, hence a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad and a CPE, a proficiency certificate, from Cambridge University UK (LSE – Local Syndicate Examination – British Council) were added to  her professional qualifications.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Thousand-year Eggs and Knishes to Die For, a Brooklyn story

The Brooklyn Bridge, seen from Manhattan, New York City courtesy of Postdlf under CC BY-SA 3.0

“Brooklyn was a dream. All the things that happened there just couldn’t happen. It was all dream stuff. Or was it all real and true and was it that she, Francie, was the dreamer?” Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn



Knishes (knyshes) stuffed with mashed potatoes and fried onions courtesy of koritca under CC BY 3.0 license

At that time, we lived along a treeless street around the corner from the Li’s Chinese Laundry and Saul’s Jewish Deli and a five-minute walk from the neighborhood public school. I used to play with Ju Li on hot summer days when we’d pool our found pennies to buy a giant 5-cent Kosher pickle from Mr. Saul Levy and his wife. The pickles were cold, wet and salty. They were more invigorating than ice cream when the air was humid and temperature hit three-digits.

Eating with Ju was one of my favorite pastimes. I was enamored of the mischievous sparks that shot from the depths of her eyes, especially when it came to Kosher pickles. “Āiya! For once …” she was eating something that didn’t originate in her mom’s kitchen or the school cafeteria.

The Li’s lived above their laundry. Sometimes after school her mom would give us oolong tea and red bean cakes. Ju regularly complained about her mother’s cooking. “Always with the rice,” she’d say, mimicking Mrs. Levy’s manner of speaking. Ju said that to be fully “Americanized” you’d need to eat lots of potatoes: baked, stuffed, fried, or mashed. If Ju was to be believed, Mrs. Li never made potatoes and cooked pork almost as often as she cooked chicken.  Mrs. Levy never cooked pork but she roasted beef in an oversized oven and it was known throughout the neighborhood that her potato knishes were to die for.

Occasionally on Friday when school let out, Mrs. Levy would call to us before sunset and Shabbas and invite us in to eat with Moshe, her eight-year-old son. At school and whenever his parents weren’t around, we called him Moose, which he much preferred. Moose wanted to be a baseball player, but I think the Levy’s had other plans for him.

Mrs. Levy would serve us a roasted beef sandwich, half for each of us along with half a potato knish, a slice of pickle, and a glass of creme soda. My mom would have been upset to know I ate meat on Friday, but I didn’t think Jesus would begrudge me such a meal. After we finished eating, she would close the deli. “Have a good rest,” we’d say politely as we left. “From your lips to God’s ears,” was Mrs. Levy’s inevitable response.

As for my own mom’s cooking, I should first explain that my Sidto, my mother’s mother, was the cook in the family. She and my mom were mad at each other and hadn’t spoken since I was five or six. I do remember though that like Mrs. Li my Sidto was also “always with the rice,” which was typical for a Lebanese.  I remember her bottomless pots of chicken-rice soup scented with cinnamon and carefully ladled into small bowls with pink roses on them. I remember her knobby fingers fussing over stuffed grape leaves and kibby, ground meat mixed with cracked wheat, onions, and seasonings. I remember Sidto’s tart yogurt in quart-sized Mason jars. She’d wrap the jars in a Navy surplus blanket and set them by the dining room radiator to ferment.

At my house we had bakery-bought ghreybah, Lebanese butter cookies, or chocolate chip cookies from Safeway, usually on a Saturday afternoon when my mom was home from work. Once my mom invited Ju for dinner but one look at our frozen dinners and Ju went home to her rice.

In fairness to my mother, I don’t want to give the impression that she didn’t cook. She did! She made tea with honey and buttered Wonder Bread with cinnamon sugar for breakfast. She prepared packaged chicken noodle soup with sandwiches of cream cheese and orange marmalade for lunch.  She made good spaghetti – perfectly al dente – with canned marinara sauce that she topped with cheese dust that came in little green containers. She was great at baking those frozen dinners without burning them. Sometimes she’d make lamb chops in a pressure cooker with potatoes and carrots. There were three seasonings in her cabinet: salt, pepper, and allspice. I’m not sure why the latter. I don’t think Mom ever used it. Throughout my childhood the tin sat untouched, growing greasy brown pimples and collecting miniature dust bunnies. Though I gave Mom credit for what she could and did do, I figured that if I had to live with my mother’s rather stunted culinary repertoire, I better learn to cook in self-defense.

Century egg, also known as thousand-year egg courtesy of Kowloneese under CC BY-SA 3.0

In those days, I only ate tidbits. Nonetheless, food had a habit of drifting through my imagination and my dreams: roasting beef a la Mrs. Levy, making chicken soup like my Sidto, and cooking the exotic Chinese dishes I imagined Mrs. Li did. Āiya! What, I wondered, were thousand-year eggs and bird’s nest soup? I prayed out loud from my lips to the Jewish God’s ears, silently at Mass on Sunday to Jesus and Mary, and in bed at night I whispered to Ju’s mysterious Buddha. I need to learn to cook, I told them. Please! 

Then, early one September when I was nine, hope arrived in the person of Ju. She came around to our apartment with our first invitation to dinner at her place. It was for Sunday. The dinner would be to celebrate her parents’ newly acquired citizenship, but really it was all about me. I could think of nothing but watching Mrs. Li cook so I could steal her culinary magic. Her English was poor and I didn’t speak Cantonese but in our melting-pot world we were skilled at listening for the few words here and there that we might understand, watching facial expressions, hand gestures and body language, and taking context into account. In this way, we managed to communicate across cultures. And, well, you know, food has a way of speaking on its own. Sights and smells. Sizzle and crackle.

On our way home from noon Mass that Sunday, Mom picked up a congratulations card and a tray of baklava for us to take to the Li’s. At Mass, my mind had already eloped somewhere with bird’s nests and thousand-year eggs, but as we climbed the Li’s stairs, I was startled out of my imaginings. I shot a questioning glance at my mother. Something was wrong. No scent. No scent! No cooking? Slowly, I trudged the rest of the way. We were met at the landing by Mr. and Mrs. Li’s big smiles and warm welcome with their arms outstretched and ready hugs for me. They were nodding their heads, proudly drawing us inside to see a room filled with neighbors and relatives and a “real American dinner.”  There were sandwiches and salads – potato and macaroni – and a platter piled high with knishes from the Levy’s. A fruit bowl and two apple pies sat at the end of the table and a punch bowl and glasses were on the kitchen counter next to a bowl of fortune cookies.

Ju ran up to me. “Do you believe it? Potatoes! Potatoes in the Li household.” Moose caught my eye, nodding at me from around the end of the buffet, munching on one of his mom’s knishes. He eyed the salads with longing but didn’t dare touch any with his parents there. The salads were probably from Mr. Bjornstad’s. He was given to putting smoky bacon in almost everything. He said it was his signature touch.

Mr. Li was calling to us. “More news,” he said, pulling Ju next to him. He patted her head. “Now better known as Judy.” Well, I thought, so much for Thousand-year Eggs and Birds’ Nest Soup, but how could I begrudge my friend her happiness. There she stood with her mouth full of potato salad, a new American name, and stars in her eyes. Well, I thought, somewhat dejected on my own account until my eyes landed on Mrs. Levy. Schmatz and gribenes. Chopped chicken livers. Potato knishes to die for. Prayers began afresh from my lips to the Jewish God’s ears, silently at Mass on Sunday to Jesus and Mary, and in bed at night I whispered to Ju’s mysterious Buddha. I need to learn to cook, I told them. Please! 

© 2019, Jamie Dedes

If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to view the video.



ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Five by Jamie Dedes, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019
* From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems)(July 2019)
* Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review (July 2019)
Upcoming in digital publications:
* The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice (August 2019)

A busy though bed-bound poet, writer, former columnist and the former associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Levure littéraireRamingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, HerStry, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander CoveI Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play, Woven Tale PressThe Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, a curated info hub for poets and writers. I founded The Bardo Group/Beguines, a virtual literary community and publisher of The BeZine of which I am the founding and managing editor. Among others, I’ve been featured on The MethoBlog, on the Plumb Tree’s Wednesday Poet’s Corner, and several times as Second Light Live featured poet.

Email me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, reprint rights, or comissions.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

For The POET By DAY ~ In Response To Children’s author, Joyce Sidman’s Poem : What Do The Trees Know ‘

A thoughtful homage to American poet and writer, Joyce Sidman, by Pakistani poet/writer/artist, Anjum Wasim Dar. Sweet! Anjum Ji has also included an excerpt from one of her novels. Happy weekend. Enjoy!

POETIC OCEANS

 Joyce Sidman

Minnesota

USA

841191a36a84d74e9adc365016b0c427--adventure-novels-forests

 From the  Second Adventure Novel   ‘Pencileeze Forest  Mystery           

What Do The Trees Say

We grow as Nature ordains
never complain and bear the pains
from black to grey, green to brown
one by one we fall to the ground

Our duty done with full obedience
spreading freshness and fragrance
with peaceful quietude we surrender
making space for others in elegance.

This is The Truth This is The Call
This is The Providence of The Fall
Be it Oak, Pine Fir or Kowhai
Sown ‘n Grown, This is The Final Cry’.

Excerpt from the Novel….

Prologue to The Second Adventure of The Multi Colored Lead People
Mystery of the Pencileeze Forest
Never before had anyone ventured so far on the Land of Twisted Trees and found a treasure to keep’ unknown to them at the time, how valuable it would be in…

View original post 135 more words

The Reign of Claws, A Tale of Two Cats

“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”
Death thought about it.
Cats, he said eventually. Cats are nice.”

Terry Pratchett, Sourcery: A Novel of DiscWorld



Cats and dogs and other wee creatures are good friends to writers and poets. They keep us company through long solitary days of work.  They force us to get up, move around, walk, use our distance vision … take a break.

After years of nurturing all sorts of animals – we had a variety when my son was little – my docs told me no more birds, cats, rats, goldfish, beta, hamsters, or gerbils.  Dogs, for some reason, seemed okay and I’ve had two in recent years. I adopted Bob Seeger Dedes at the end of September and by October I had to surrender him, my allergies kicked in to the point that my eyes were swollen shut and it was hard to get out of bed. I’m devastated, but Bob was taken into a good home within days of surrender, such is his charm.


In loving memory of all the fish babies and love birds, of Gerry 1 and Gerry 2, Sherlock Holmes the Rat, Priscilla, Tigger, Bubba Cat, Telemachus, Dexter, Feyd, Buddy, Brutus, Skippy the Bush Dog, and The Bax.

My son looked at Pyewacket. “She’s either the smallest Holstein or the biggest cat.” She was big … and reserved. She was a lady of the old school and a contrast to Gypsy, a feline with some distant kinship to Peter Pan. Gypsy didn’t want to grow up. We thought she might be a munchkin, a hyperkinetic one. Where Pyewacket watched the world from behind wide Yoda eyes, Gypsy, like a stranger from another planet, was inclined to place her head in the mouths of huge dogs, bend metal blinds with bare claws, set rivers loose with bounding leaps into water bowls and – disguised as an innocent kitty – create havoc to the disgust of Pyewacket who had Yoda’s eyes but not his stoicism.

Here we are – at the vet – the munchkin and the Holstein – a pair reminiscent of Mr. & Mrs. Sprat of fairytale fame. The recommendations: prescription diets for both, exercise for Pyewacket. “Get something for her to chase.”

That’s when I got Tweety Pie. She lived in the corner of the living room and hung out on a string that was attached to a length of bamboo. She licked her beak at the thought of two cats to outsmart. Back and forth, too and fro, she flew across the room. Pyewacket turned a blind-eye on the indignity of the chase, but Gypsy couldn’t get enough.

Time passed as it is wont to do. Pye stayed her plump and meditative self. Gypsy remained scrawny, endlessly chasing Tweetie Pie and leaping from tabletops and counters. One day I woke up too weak to walk. The docs did their best to repair the damage my deranged immune system had wrecked. Their best was very good indeed. Still, it was difficult to keep up with Gypsy. My world-class son and beautiful daughter-in-law adopted Gypsy.

Pyewacket stayed with me and we took care of one another, though eventually kidney failure – common in cats – had the last word. Pyewacket started her walk to the Rainbow Bridge. Every few steps she turned and looked back, the sadness in her Yoda eyes more profound than ever. Years later Gypsy left. I wasn’t with her but envision Gypsy leaping across the Bridge. True to herself, no backward glances, just on to the next adventure.

The Reign of Paws was filled with smiles and love, but cats don’t live as long as humans. Loss is expected, inevitable, heartbreaking. Still, I regret nothing. Some of our best family memories include our kitties and they’ve inspired more than one story or poem by more than one of us.


ABOUT

Testimonials

Disclosure

Facebook

Twitter

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”



 The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton