Back to Archive



© 2005 - 2008 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas. 





La Enfermera


When I was young a dread disease

was given me by summer's kiss,

and I, an alpinist of trees,

became a  hateful helplessness.

My legs refused to stand and go,

dangling from me uselessly.

I had to have a nurse, and Oh!

the nurse my doctor found for me!

Mercedes, cool  as Katmandu;

Mercedes, sunny as Capri;

I'd be paralysed anew

if she would come again to me.


I think of afternoons we took

my chair that went on easy wheels

across the lawn, beyond the brook,

and out around the summer  fields,

and stopped beside our little lake

where it narrows in the glade,

and rested there for coolness' sake

in tremolos of aspen shade.

Her olive skin, her carbon hair,

her campesina dance and song,

filled up my brain as from my chair

I gazed and listened long and long.



A little stronger though I grew

and thought a braver part to play,

my hope was vain for soon I knew

that she would little longer stay.

And I was desolate and spent,

when on a day of mist and rain

Mercedes said adiós  and went

to marry and to live in Spain.

She wrote that life was full and good

in letters posted from Madrid.

Bereft of breath and bleak of blood,

my heart became the invalid.





La Enfermera by Wiley Clements