They Are Building a Hospital

On the field outside my home, a field
hospital, in an actual field, the great American
Oak on one end, the Tupelo on the other.
They have laid white tarp over the boggy grass
and raised a series of insulated tents.
It has blossomed overnight like a dark circus,
machines to dehumidify the air,
cots like dollhouse furniture and intricate
machines to keep alive those whose bodies
are resigned to leaving. An orchestra
of discipline and calculated faith,
of power cords and outlets maneuvered
around trees, of hoping rain holds
and spring reads the room: the human beings
are desperate. They have built a hospital
where, in other days, I walked my dog,
counting no blessing but the one I chased,
who startled strangers on blankets
before stretching on the grass. How happy
I was not knowing how happy, walking
the path along the field’s perimeter,
watching the sky flare its oranges and pinks,
reflect a cool purple off the leaves.
Idling in goodness, letting the mind loose
over the life let it. I thought forever,
did not think, for so much of gladness
was thoughtlessness. Now I mourn
the hours from the safety of my health,
stand a little lost at what proceeds
the mourning. They are building a hospital—
the whir of engines stirs the animals,
a melody, a dirge, the robins sing.

They Are Building a Hospital from Wound Is the Origin of Wonder by Maya C. Popa. Published by W. W. Norton & Co, 2022. Copyright © Maya C. Popa. Reproduced by permission of the author c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN