Cressida wore rap-around dresses,
underneath her white lab coat concealing
Sterling silver pendants, bangle bracelets,
manila rope shawls & paisley lingerie,
recapturing time lost after 16 semesters
in college, an extended graduate residency,
taking & failing the NCLEC exam twice;
she emptied out bedpans secretly dressed
to the nines, read pulse oximeters like a gypsy
diviner, consulted vital sign monitors
for those on life’s threshold & oblivion’s abyss.

Cressida would slip her buffalo sandals
inside unisex Crocs, wiggling toes, flashing
designer nails as she charted test results
administered medications, noted progress
attended to demands by dementia patient
who ordered her to shut blinds & turn
off all the lights in rooms black as pitch;
humming “Fire & Rain,” she envisioned
each salt & pepper male a young, trapped
ICU Troilus, ignoring doors that slammed
at midnight announcing death like black sails.