Rafael Campo

January 22, 2020 Campo Rafael


No me miras,” she said, hiding her face,
the ER staring with its thousand eyes.
She cried, her sobs becoming visible:
tears sparkled, making spectacle of sight.

The ER blaring. With its thousand eyes
of stars, the night outside was watching us.
Dew sparkled. What a spectacle, the sight
of morning dawning in the parking lot,

the stars, the night grown frustrated with us.
I tried to visualize her retina,
like morning bleeding, flecked with dark red clots.
What little we can see inside of us.

I try to visualize her now, returning
to whatever shithole she was from.
How awful, what we see inside of us.
Self-righteously, her nurse asked, “Why such rage?”

Back wherever she tried crossing from,
her husband beat her up. She gazed at me,
while I still nursed my pent-up, righteous rage.
Don’t look at me! I thought, hiding my shame.

RAFAEL CAMPO teaches and practices internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, where he also directs the Art and Humanities Initiative’s Literature and Writing Program.  He is also the Poetry Section Editor for JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Author of nine highly acclaimed books, his honors and awards include a Guggenheim fellowship and a Lambda Literary.  His poetry and essays have appeared The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times, Poetry, Scientific American and elsewhere.  He lectures widely, with recent appearances at TEDx Cambridge, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Library of Congress. His new and selected volume of poems, Comfort Measures Only, is now available from Duke University Press.  For more information, please visit www.rafaelcampo.com.