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when pillows talk

A poem

Published on:
July 17, 2017
Read time:
1 min.
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there i was,
in the room ready
at the head of the bed.
i laid there awaiting my next client’s arrival;
i was puffed up and filled with . . . polyester at the time—having just encased myself in this fresh muslin fabric that a nurse gifted to me.
suddenly i began to hear a voice.
my client; her voice.


i last saw her when i first met her.
though i didn’t see her, i only heard her.
neither did i speak to her.
she didn’t need my comfort overnight;
she told me her life within a few hours


she began by telling me about her hobbies; how she is a really active member in this community of people that meet together every first day of the week in the mornings to sing songs to and about an unseen being that sustains them. this community of people also does more things in their extended community throughout the week, but she was more passionate about what they do on the first of the week. well, that is, until she caught some type of lung illness. one of her tears dropped on top of me as she described her fright and inability to sing. she spoke of how she and her community continuously supplicated to the unseen being to sustain her lung.


quoting the late Dr. Paul Kalanithi, she said, “There were times where my ‘words began to feel as weightless as the breath that carried them,’”


“But God, in his compassion, healed me. Now, a couple of years later, my heart has began to feel as heavy as the chest that treasures it.”


as she referred to her current condition in deep sorrow, a torrent of her tears began to pour out atop of me. i brought her face in and absorbed it all.
she stammered about her father going to sleep from a heart condition;
she whispered that now she has a heart condition, but she didn’t want to sleep.

o unseen being, sustain her heart!

Ikem Ukeka
Ikem (Na-Chi) Ukeka is a Physical Therapy doctoral candidate at Midwestern University’s Downers Grove campus. He dabbles in different forms of poetry, from hip-hop to spoken word. You can follow him on Twitter and see more of his poems on his website.

Cover image by Jez Timms.

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