Morning Song by Marcia F. Brown

blackbird-542460_1920This post is part of our collection of “Gold Nuggets” —  our way of alerting the medical community to original artwork, poetry or multimedia that stimulate discussion and reflection.

If you have an original piece you think would make for good discussion by the medical community, you can submit a Gold Nugget by emailing

Morning Song

Here, I place
a blue glazed cup
where the wood
is slightly whitened.
Here, I lay down
two bright spoons,
our breakfast saucers, napkins
white and smooth as milk.

I am stirring at the sink,
I am stirring
the amount of dew
you can gather in two hands,
folding it into the fragile
quiet of the house.
Before the eggs,
before the coffee
heaving like a warm cat,
I step out to the feeder—
one foot, then the other,
alive on wet blades.
Air lifts my gown—I might fly—

This thistle seed I pour
is for the tiny birds.
This ritual,
for all things frail
and imperiled.
Wings surround me, frothing
the air. I am struck
by what becomes holy.

A woman
who lost her teenage child
to an illness without mercy,
said that at the end, her daughter
sat up in her hospital bed
and asked:

What should I do?
What should I do?

Into a white enamel bath
I lower four brown eggs.
You fill the door frame,
warm and rumpled, kiss
the crown of my head.
I know how the topmost leaves
of dusty trees
feel at the advent
of the monsoon rains.

I carry the woman with the lost child
in my pocket, where she murmurs
her love song without end:
Just this, each day:
Bear yourself up on small wings
to receive what is given.

Feed one another
with such tenderness,
it could almost be an answer.

Discussion Questions

Poem and discussion questions copied with publisher’s permission from the article Words for the Wordless, by Hedy S. Wald, PhD:

  1. How does this poem speak to you?
  2. Have you ever escaped to routine or “ritual” to maintain distance from and/or heal yourself after an emotionally challenging patient experience or interaction? What helps to keep you emotionally connected?
  3. Have you been changed and/or has your practice of medicine been informed by caring for a suffering patient or by experiencing the loss of a patient or loved one? How do you “carry” this experience with you?