The Hospital Room 

by Maia Zelkha 


On Dilaudid, I slept under an ancient carob tree.
Floated like the scent of lavender. Looked like a girl. 
Slept like a girl. I was a girl. The doctors found nothing
inside me except water and swallowed air.  

 So, I said, give me more Dilaudid. Because I was not 
as happy as a lark. But the man on the other side of the 
curtain was from Oklahoma. And he kept saying he was 
as happy as a lark. I said, take I.V. out. Now  

I forgot who put it there. It wasn’t God. On Dilaudid, God
said, laugh, so I laughed. On Dilaudid, I wrote Him many
letters but they returned to me shredded, with no return
address. I prayed for healing, but the answer was no.   

And I tried to write a poem, but the words would not leave 
my hand. So, I said, give me more Dilaudid. Because I 
looked like a girl. I was a girl. Because I wanted the I.V. out, 
and I wanted ramen. So sorry, they said. So sorry it hurts.   

Because Mom brought me picture books. Because people
sent cards to Mom. Congrats on baby girl. But I wasn’t born
yesterday. So, I said, give me more Dilaudid. And the
woman on the other side of the curtain wept.   

She hurt. Needed attention. Needed mama, now. She looked
like a woman. She was a woman. She cried like a baby. I said,
I want to go home. Shouldn’t hear baby’s first cry. I’m a kid.
I want to be born again. Then I cried like a baby.   

Want warm milk now. Want warm bath now. And I vomited.
Not like a baby. Like a woman. I said, I.V. out, now. And
someone said something I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t God.
It was my father’s voice, which I realized I had forgotten. 

About the Author:

Maia Zelkha is currently an undergraduate at University of California, Santa Cruz studying History. She is passionate about poetry, literature, language, as well as the spiritual and surreal. Her work has previously been published in Blind Corner Literary Magazine, Ghost City Press, and The Mandarin Magazine.

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