Patricia Horn O'Brien

Although I Am the One Sent to Help

December 29, 2018



On the sofa you are rounded beneath

your afghan, knees drawn toward

the source of your fever. The room

wavers with your heat.  And this


is where I come in, blue around the lips

and bent by the darkness of this mid-

afternoon. Between the hallway’s doors,

I bang the snow from my boots, shake


the weather from the wool vaults

of my hat and coat.  Even so, I move

toward you like a storm. But if I am

a specter of winter’s frozen gloom,


you never let on, and reaching

for my hands, you offer to warm them.                                       



Over the years of my home visits as a Medical Social Worker, I was constantly amazed and grateful to the patients I had the privilege to serve.


The poem here attempts to capture the generosity of our patients, despite their illness or isolation or overwhelming needs … in this case, a  visit on a miserable, stormy, mid-winter day.


                                                                              Patricia O’Brien

                                                                              Old Saybrook Poet Laureate



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