is precious

the way birth is holy

breathing on your own

you blink in the light

you are here, you are you

a smooth emergence takes practice

patience, often luck –

if I can slip the tube out

just as bandage touches skin

and your breath mists the mask just so

it is a thing of beauty

slick, smooth, sweet

I have been kissed within moments

I've been hugged and asked

Is it over?  or even

When are they going to start? 

anesthesia time is a blackboard eraser

sweeping through chalk dust

but emergence can be ugly

you gag and buck

anything to cough out

that tube of life lodged in your throat

and I have seen emergence worse than ugly

hands in a pus filled belly

the surgeon had said

Smell that? smells like a tortilla – that's pseudomonas 

then irrigated, done

I pulled the tube from his throat

and with the tube, a scream – an unearthly shriek

his chest arched from the table

as if a murderer twisted a dagger in his back

I asked Are you in pain? Do you remember anything? 

but like a shadow deepening to night he whispered No 

No  he said hoarsely I wanted to die 

emergence is hard

I learned that day

if you had embraced oblivion

and I pulled you back.