By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor
“I held that stone / in my hand for hours while they split your bones,” says the narrator of Janet Parkinson’s poem “Talisman,” which appears this month in Art of Nursing. The poem speaks to the tremendous strain of waiting for the outcome of a loved one’s emergency surgery. It’s about the need for connection over great distances, for a “stone constant” in the face of grave uncertainty. The poet’s voice is unsentimental and steady, and the poem, just seven lines, itself feels almost talismanic. (Art of Nursing is always free online—just click through to the PDF file.)
In Roger Davies’s poem “Preparing to Pretend to Knit at the Chemotherapy Clinic,” featured in October’s Art of Nursing, a husband also waits, feeling helpless. “I’ll choose the long, elegant needles,” he says, imagining homespun wools dyed in autumn colors. Recalling his mother’s “nonchalant / competence” at the craft, he longs for the solace found in knowing what to do—even if it’s only how to hold the needles. In the poem’s last lines, the narrator says, “I could look out the window / to this fading autumn day.” But it’s clear that he’s not quite ready to see that view yet.
Rebecca Thomas’s painting “The Waiting Room: Norma,” featured in November, depicts the artist’s grandmother, who gazes out at us, her expression both yearning and fierce. She seems to lean forward slightly into a blurred foreground, much as one might lean into an unknown future. About her grandmother, Thomas writes: “She lived through lymphoma. Her husband didn’t. Now, the cancer and my grandfather are gone from everywhere but her face in this moment—her ‘waiting face,’ right before the smile.”
We invite you to pause with these works for a few minutes and listen for what resonates within you. And if you’re interested in submitting your own work to Art of Nursing—we consider visual art, “flash” fiction, and poetry—email me for guidelines: sylvia