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Friday, March 18, 2022


by Ethan McGuire

Top: Art by Molly Crabapple, special to ProPublica, April 24, 2020. Bottom: Graphic from National Nurses United.

She lies sprawled across a battered couch,
green scrubs still covering her body,
a cheap wine glass dangling from outstretched fingers.
He swings through the splintering apartment door,
blue, button-up uniform unbuttoned,
stained undershirt beneath it. “I’m home.”
“I had an awful day at work,” she sighs
as she picks up a bottle of Woodbridge merlot.
Pouring a glass, her eyes search the hall for him.
“Yeah?” he grunts, opening the fridge.
“Been having trouble with the charge nurse again,
and my plantar fasciitis is back.”
“Oh, no,” he says, pausing in the hallway.
“Administration, man, they’re coming down on us!
‘Course they won’t lower censuses for a damn thing... 
Maybe just another freaking pizza party... 
They’ll call us heroes but won’t give us a chance.”
“That sucks,” he says, as he limps through the hall
and as he sinks into the couch beside her.
“I hate being a floor nurse, hate it like hell.
I’ve gotta do something else.”
“I’m sorry.”
They sit still
in the cold and the quite then.
They only stare absently into
a noiseless, motionless TV, until
their hands touch. A certain love connects them.
She scoots over closer to his body,
and he slides his soiled, calloused hands under hers.

Ethan McGuire works by day as a healthcare information technology professional and by night as a writer, whose poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in Better than Starbucks, The Dark Sire, Emerald Coast Review, and The Poetry Pea, among others. Ethan McGuire grew up in the Missouri Ozarks, but he, his wife who also works in healthcare as a nurse, and their new daughter currently live in the Florida Panhandle near the Gulf of Mexico. Twitter: @AHeavyMetalPen