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Hospital Visitation

Antony Johae

We went there, Thérèse and I, in the summer heat—Hariri’s hospital—on the
other side of the great stadium from the charged Airport Road.

We brought biscuits in a merry tin for Noha, mother-in-law’s sister, a sweet taste
for one who lies drenched in pain of old bones and stones in tender places.

Her moans match a daughter’s cell phone conversation, she who waits over her
nodding mother, Noha’s unconscious neighbour.

The window lets in a bright breeze as our patient talks from the pillow. The
other sleeps with whiskered face shaking, a foot uncovered.

The day advances. The ward lightens in the evening. A trolley rattles at the
door; hospital fare is placed on waiting tables.

Thérèse blows on steamy soup, spoons it into our patient’s mouth, spaghetti in
tin foil and small boxed salad. These give apparent satisfaction.

I wonder who it is feeds Noha when we or family others are not here to tend
her. Thérèse nods towards the woman seated by the second bed.

She looks across at us, this scarfed woman in hot long dress, sitting by her sleeping
mother, ready to succour and sustain her.

I think of war’s alarms—men’s rivalries, call to arms, their ruination—and in a
flash see these women in a fresh vision.

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