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Bad news in the ER

'Your son was at a concert when he collapsed.'
By Emily Ferrara
Fall 2008 8.18.08

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The serious young doctor
started the story
at the beginning.

“Your son was at a concert
when he collapsed.”
Can I see him?
“An ambulance was called.
EMTs started CPR.”
Where is he?
“They tried to revive him,
but got no reponse.”
Please. . .
“They brought him here.
We worked a long time.”
Oh God.
“We didn’t want to give up.
He was so young.”

I searched the doctor for sorrow,
found a stoic earnestness.
He ended with an apology.

“I’m so sorry,” he said,
as if he’d hurt my feelings,
as if I could forgive him.


This poem previously appeared in Family Medicine and is included in Emily Ferrara's collection The Alchemy of Grief.

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