White Sheets, by Julia Esacove

Everywhere, snarled harps of sheets unfurl to lick toenail, lip, eyelash.
White dragons of thin cotton thwack-snapping in the hands of orderlies
long acclimated to the wards’ fleshy humidor of blackening lilies.

The sick sweat, unsoothed. The flatlined, stripped of tubes and unstrung
like violins in reverse are removed from last-act bivouacs and shipped off
to some lower level only children think to ask about. Vinyl visitor chairs

petroglyphed with rumps twitch with the parting blips and sighs,
butterflies of final breath and blinking eyes. Someone has died.
Should there not be bells, a burning ghat, a violet-wreathed pyre in the hall?

Some means, some smoke signal, perhaps, of paging the saints
for handholding and chant? What for those bedside vigiliants who need
a break: slipping out to the smoking patio or nearest bar, passing that

family of six minus one shivering in the hushed slice of the hospital’s
single telephone booth? How about an omniscient clock furnishing us
with the ultimate second so no one dies longing for our return

from the cafeteria, the chapel, the waiting rooms packed with forgotten
toddlers confetti-ing copies of Time and HighLights to haystacks. Or the
restrooms ghosted with surgeons, chalky as Charon, fighting the sleep ferry.

Patients slowly ford the orange-carpeted rivers of hallway, leashed
to nacreous lamps of intravenous fluids. Still alive. Dazed. How they hate
the paintings – clowns, marigolds, kittens – sutured to the walls with steel stays.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 1.

A native Californian, Julia Esacove obtained Bachelor of Arts degrees in Anthropology and Creative Writing from Pitzer College. She is the recipient of state-wide awards in college journalism and studied French literature at the Sorbonne Université. She has finalized her second chapbook of poetry, The Archangels of the Unremarkable and is currently working on a memoir with the assistance of her mentor, author Joe Loya.

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1 Comment

  1. Julia, I like this – the cross cultural and Greek mythological references and the fast movement. It’s different in the best sense.

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