Excerpts from “Weaning Love, Nursing Death” — Crystal Hurdle

The smells,
Hospital scratch and sniff stickers
given out to all good little girls and boys
antiseptic, acrid –
a blood drip
with baby urine
watery bowel movements
overlaid with the sweetest smell of all
in a room down the hall
baby powder on a clean clean baby


Don’t know what did
Don’t know what did

Incubating what
Seraphim and cherubim
What a pretty little angel
You’ll be in heaven
So much better than being
your mommy’s little angel.

Forget what did
Forget what did


Good to place babies out in the sun
but it’s a grey murk, sodden
unseasonable season
It withholds so much
I’ll give you some “Vitamin D”
It’s like the sun
It pierces
strong bones
and it will help you grow


I know the analgesic is so
cold that you, blue baby,
never to be blue boy,
cry out
robbed of warmth, its safety
How it cocoons you
Even though I’ve chosen the smallest needle
so it will make a poke that’s



I don’t want you to feel it


I’ll have to describe
the night sky to you
because we can’t see it from this room
of wheezing machines
not a single window to
the outside world
Up there is the Milky Way
and over there, Cassiopeia
galaxy upon galaxy
and look even higher
into the heavens
as I
give you your sweet release


Mercy killing is such an ugly phrase
Mercy, yes, is good
but one must not kill mercy
Mercy is so bountiful
so hopeful
it is killing


Dame Mercy, another name for Florence Nightingale,
another name for me
pretty pseudonym
Merci, you’re welcome


Tender is
as tender does





The doctors treat us like slaves
or perhaps like their wives
I don’t know which is more flattering.

Oh, Doctor!

No, I’ve not heard the term ‘Munchausen by Proxy’
Well! I passed in the upper half of my class,
I’ll have you know!


In Room 418

Love is never having

Love is never

This is going to hurt me
more than it will hurt you.

Going to

If love is the answer,
what is the question?


In Room 431
Two beds
a wee cot in the
middle of them
like a sandwich

It’s hard to know
to whom to give the teddy bear
or the care

Code 25
so often that it’s growing sickening

Rumble of the thrash cart
through the halls

Everybody waking up to a new horror
that now involves him

The fluorescent lights
particularly sick-making

Paddles for the babies
the size of wooden spoons

What my mother used to cook with
spank me with

Symbol of punishment
the anticipation of abuse

So heady and alarming
it was a relief
when it finally came

Now a Code 23
requesting not just a doctor
but a certain doctor

Why him?
Why now?


The Walls Have Ears

Lady Rumour replaces Dame Mercy
in the long aseptic hallways
Too many deaths to be natural,
but it’s like the children’s game
in which you whisper from ear to ear
and what went in is not what comes out
Besides, no one wants to get that close
tongue to ear
too many deaths
did you say, you fetish?


Trial in my Head before a Huge Cast

Why did I do it?
Testing feelings of invincibility?
Well, I’m already invincible, so, no

I’m pretty hot stuff as is, so, no

I have a deep and abiding affection for people, especially men, so, no

At Halloween people accuse me of not wearing a costume.  I say, “I’m dressed as a psychopath.”
But my white coat and high heels always confuse people. Haha!

The Malignant Hero?
So many of the babies, so, no

Financial gain?
Babies too little to rewrite their wills, even if they had them, so, no

Suffer the little children.  Enough said.


No one did it
Someone did it
but no one


These babies were really sick
They would have died irregardless
Yes, I respect language?
Why do you ask?


Talk Show in the Head

Why do you think they accused you/her?
You/she look/s so normal!
Maybe it’s because you’re/she’s so composed?

Too composed for a woman
I’m just saying.



Guilty by presumption
Malicious prosecution


Normal normal normal?
Aberrant personality?
What is normal?
What is special?
I suppose I have special needs

Just like you

That great pill box
harder to come by
Now two nurses must sign out on the inventory sheet

[end of excerpts]