James G. Koch
At thirteen, I had been in the oxygen tent
more than two weeks, when the night nurse was changed.
Dozing on and off, most of the time,
I thought little of it—though she was pretty.
The second or third night, she smiled and leaned
over my bed, to readjust the bedding.
On my back, I felt breast nudge my groin
and rest there for a minute before she straightened.
The next night, she left the bathroom door
open, while changing into her uniform.
From the dark room where I lay, I saw first one
lovely unstockinged leg then another.
Did I have medication? was all
she asked, as the nights passed, and I myself
felt little inclination to conversation,
weak, woozy, watching the nightly show.
And it went on. First, the street stocking off
one leg, foot resting on toilet seat;
white stocking rolled on slowly; then, repeat—
the other leg. My blood would pound along.
One night, after about a week, I called her
over, after she had dressed, and asked,
would she get in bed when the ward was quiet? I said,
under the oxygen tent, no one will notice.
Her response was "It's just for you to watch.
You're too sick anyway, and a bit young."
She went into the bathroom. Taking off
every stitch, she smiled and winked at me.
"You're plain cruel!" I cried. For several minutes
the ward echoed with my laughter, during
which (presumably) she got dressed again.
When the floor nurse came, my nurse said, "Delirious!"