Bedpan Betty, RN
This started as a writing prompt where each stanza is doubled and the next and the next. Once I got started it was hard to stop. I kept wondering if this was about that which we call love. Is this about giving and getting lost in it? Is this about nursing and we end up terrorized by the shackles of our limitations? Is it in the eye of our lover, our patients, our administrators, or ourselves? Who have we chained ourselves to so willingly? What happened to our dreams of love and hope and happy endings? Have we snuffed out hope? You tell us, our sister castle queens. How does one survive as the tragic hero?
But sometimes I don’t want
To care or think or cry or scream or even
Look you in the eye. I want to sleep and cover my head with the blankets. Pillow cool and smooth
Beneath my cheek. Lights out. The only sound my breath as my mind rages and screams out loud. How is this all silent? The war inside my head? How can you not hear my anguish? Why do you not force open my eyelids and stare into the windows of my soul
Until you understand and have absorbed me? Why must I take to my bed to wrestle my demons alone? Are you not the one to slay them for me? Or at least stand by my side on the battlefield? Where is your horse? The white one? Have you forgotten how to ride? I thought you were the one to save me from the tower. The one in which I was alone waiting. Now the tower is my refuge not my prison. That lonely bed still lonely but once full of expectation and fantasy and hope. Bedding now crumpled and stale
and smelling of sleep. You were the one. You are the one. But we have both lost our way. Looking to the other to save us. You have put away your sword. You have forgotten your purpose. I have lost hope in salvation. I thought this dragon was yours to conquer but I was mistaken. It is my beast and my beast alone. Were you ever able to kill it? I still wonder. But I have drawn my own weapon. Unleashed my fury. The beast within a strong match for the one trying to consume me. I will survive the flames. I will singe to be sure. But the fire will serve to cleanse not just destroy. Watch and learn. You too must wake up. Wake up! I am no longer the passive princess you longed to save. I waited long enough. I wanted to be saved. Saved by you. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or dumb enough for you to want to save me. But now I see you were never planning on saving me to begin with. Why? Why? Why? You promised you would. You vowed you would. It was our sacrament. This
dragon has not become as complacent as you. It lies in the corner and sleeps like I want to. But I can hear it breathing. It watches me on occasion with one yellow eye. Its chains clink as it moves. But those chains are an illusion to pacify us. They are not as strong as they look. With one quick movement this dragon shall be upon me. It will try to consume me with its fire and its teeth. And I still fear it. I do. I watch it daily but although it sleeps it knows as I do, that it is only time. Only time before it rises again and sends me to my tower. Alone. Again and always alone. When? The waiting is worse than the knowing. Shall I just go there before it chases me? You seem to not notice its sulfurous presence. You do not notice its chain mail of scales. What can I do? I wring my hands as you roll your eyes. I check the stable daily. Wondering what happened to your beautiful white horse? I notice your scabbard carelessly thrown aside. Its contents rusted. You think this war is over. You do not hear the battle drums. I do. I hear them. It is not just the blood pounding in my ears. It is the enemy and you are the one who is sleeping and I am the one who is tired. Where is the key? The key to my tower? I shall sweep up the cobwebs that have taken residence there. I want to run up the stairs-won’t you lock me in again? You have saved me once but is that enough? You think the battle is won. You think the beast is tamed. Your eyes are closed while mine have been washed clean with tears. You find me ungrateful. Spoiled even. You filled me with great expectation yet become angry when I lament over what was promised and what was given. You read me these bedtime stories! You fed me with the golden spoon so why is it my fault when I am confused by the truth? Why am I irrational when I want what you told me I could have? Don’t tell me not to cry or gnash my teeth while you throw the bones of the beast in my direction. Don’t imply I wasn’t worth it. Don’t be angry that I prefer the silence and protection of my tower to the silence and complacency of your heart. While you sleep I pick the scales from your hair. While I watch the corner and catch the gleam of that one yellow eye. My crown is gathering dust. Lying askew next to your rusty weapons. My glass slippers have cracked-its shards have cut my feet. I stand before you bleeding yet you find me insolent and demanding. I wander into the hall and gaze up at the window which once held both my soul and my dreams. Where is our happy ending?