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FEATURES: Art of Nursing

Three Detectives Photograph My Patient, 1979

Spencer, Kathleen Walsh, MSN, RN, CPSN, CS

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AJN The American Journal of Nursing: May 2006 - Volume 106 - Issue 5 - p 57
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I argue to let me stay, but they say, “Sorry,

even her nurse can’t be here.” One pulls

the curtain around the bed, they begin

their silent work as if this was the third

time today. I watch silhouettes on thin fabric,

worry they’ll tug on IVs, lean on her fractures

as they lope around like monkeys

flashing their cameras. The last time

she was awake, a gunman

made her strip on the counter

in the Rialto café,

hooked his elbow around her neck—


I hear a clatter of metal as bedrails are lowered

two lean over her to roll her front and back,

one moves her head wrapped in gauze. Someone

climbs onto the bed, readjusts the lights,

shoots down on the swollen face, one side black

and collapsed like a November pumpkin.

Now there are two on the bed.

What does she dream as the mattress quakes,

as male hands touch her skin?

“Talk to her. Talk to her,”

I whisper behind the curtain.

Her gown falls

to the tile. They stand at the foot

of the bed. I fly around the curtain

before the next flash.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.