Primitive Reflexes by Thomas Mampalam

In the space of one hour: coma
then a blown pupil, extensor posturing.
Hemicraniectomy to relieve swelling
from a large cerebral infarction.
The dura mater could not be closed.

On morning rounds, your pupils react to light
but you still hold your arms and legs straight.
When I press your brow, your feet point down.
You stare straight when I turn your head.
You still gag when I jiggle the breathing tube.

Your wife holds your rigid hand and I say
everything possible has been done.
She lets go of your hand and whispers
you would not want to live this way.
I suggest we wait for another day.

You are Icarus falling, wax melted
under blazing sun. We watch you fall
grasping for imagined primordial branches.
You clench your fists and point your toes,
bracing for the cold depth of the sea.

I turn away to finish morning rounds
and hope to get to the office on time.
I do not know if you were proud or humble
only that there will be no wings on the waves.
There will be no splash as Icarus drowns.

Icarus in steely colors holding ice sword
The Icarus-sanctuaryby Rant 73 ( CC license.

 Thomas Mampalam
Thomas Mampalam, MD is a board certified neurosurgeon who writes poetry informed by his medical, immigration, and family experiences. He lives and works in Northern California in the East Bay.

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