It cannot be heard during the day,
for the Atrium echoes with voices
of children endlessly excited by the potential
of reverberation, and that is natural.
It cannot be heard in the din of I.V. alarms,
intercom pagings & Code Red announcements;
these are definitely the sounds—but not the song.

You hear it at night, the song of the hospital.
A simple song: two notes, rise and fall.
Mother’s hum to her sleeping child, the breath
of vented air; sharp sudden cries from far away
that hush or wail with no apparent rhythm. It is
the hospital in song—life, death, life, death,
misery, joy, sickness, health; the song sings
a golden rage, a silent sound, an infinite array
of prayers, dreams, promises, fears, their object
lost, then found; it washes over them and recedes,
always in grasp, never held onto; lost, then found, lost,
found again, lyric verse, words undone, melody found;
lost, back to monotonous cleave, a vision,
a nightmare, the song is sung again, cello beat
of string, sigh of winds and plumbing,
whale song issues from inaudible depths; inhale,
exhale, a mother’s grief, a mother’s joy;
it is late, it is early, it is three in the morning;
tuba notes, white noise of the radio, the punching
of pillows wrapped around the head tight.

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