The Year of Helicopters

by Philip Brown

                                               for Julia and all the others

Not a day, and especially not a night,
went by that I did not hear the helicopters.
Their circling. Their waiting for clearance
to land at the too-close hospital. The already
lost efficiently delivered.

I knew the hospital well. Its Attendings
and Nurses. The newly minted Residents
delivered into a world that they — that
none of us ever imagined.

They were gifted with resilience. Most of
them were. Others shattered when the
pick-and-choose of triage forced them
into the role of God. The god they no
longer believed in. If they ever did.

They were the only angels that mattered. Angels
with latex covered hands gently placed on foreheads.
Rolled those they could not save to their stomachs
to catch their last breath.

I huddled in my locked down world, my
shrunken world, and offered up prayers to
saints in scrubs.

Philip Brown has had short fiction published in Voices West, Farmer’s Market, and Strong Coffee. His story “Helpless” won a PEN Syndicated Fiction award, selected by Mona Simpson. Most recently, he had poems appear in Subterranean Blue Poetry and in New Reader The Mojave Review, and Harmony. His short story “Sun in the East, Sun in the West” won 3rd prize in Typehouse Literary Magazine’s open fiction contest, and recently appeared in issue 12. He has had short stories recently in The Blue Bib and Switchblade, and a haiku was chosen by the Old Pueblo Poems competition, on display in downtown Tucson through June 2021. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

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