“The Doctor” by Andrea Martineau
I take him home from the hospital
“Grandma, what does the doctor mean
they did their best?”
Each night he slumbers
as well as any orphan can.
My grief is caffeine
conscripted to keep me from rest—
I check on him hourly.
On the third night I hear his door creak
open around a witching hour, bumpy footsteps
ambling down the hall like a baby chimp.
I slip on my bifocals, and pursue his escapade.
He submerges himself in the toy bin
crashing about like a cat thrown in a bath
until he unearths a plastic stethoscope.
He waddles outside, his blanket, a duckling,
following close behind.
I stop the screen door from slamming.
the end of the stethoscope in the damp soil.
To think we buried them only a few weeks ago.
I’m not sure what he’s listening for.
The pulse of the earth,
the hum of bugs dreaming,
the alarm clocks of nightcrawlers going off—
happy things, I hope.
He hopscotches through the cucumbers,
stops to snuggle the smaller ones that look cold,
reassures the tomatoes that there are no monsters
underneath the flowerbed he cannot defeat.
My strawberries are burnt from the sun,
picked apart by robins, like a desert corpse
defaced by miniature vultures.
“You know what? You’ll be alright.
You just need a nap
and some of Grandma’s soup.
You’ll perk up soon.”
I wish his advice applied to us,
to the gaping negative space
in our home, our hearts,
in our family portrait.
Andrea Martineau is in her third year of study at the University of Regina completing a BA in English, a certificate in Public Relations, and a minor in Psychology. Aside from being a student she is an intern at the Saskatchewan Book Awards and an editor at the Road Maps & Life Rafts literary magazine. She can usually be found devouring a novel, looking after her forest of houseplants, attending local writing events and workshops, or travelling about the country.