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