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John A. Vanek MD

About this Christian Poet:
John A. Vanek is a physician, writer and poet, with works published in Heartlands, Natural Bridge, Pebble Lake Review, Common Threads, The Vincent Brothers Review, Tattoo Highway, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and Medical Economics. His poem, "The People's Republic,"is part of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum's permanent collection. His creative nonfiction piece, "Holding on to Hope," is scheduled for publication in Chicken Soup for the Caregiver's Soul in 2004.

Monsters and Ghosts

We play a round of Patty Cake,
her fingers dwarfed by mine.
Cat's Cradle erupts in claps of joy,
surprise in her smile.

Together we search for monsters
in closets and under the bed—
'til night waltzes circles around us,
dances me back to my internship:

           to a child of a woman,
           face eclipsed by draped knees,
           ebony skin, pink through the speculum,
           scarlet in the surgical basin.

           My mentor whispers: Hold the curette
           like an artist's brush, the razor bristles
           slicing down to muscle.
           Feel the grating resistance. Scrape.

           Then a tiny hand emerges, nails painted
           with blood, fingers clutching
           the teeth of the cold curette and I learn
           how some stains never wash clean.

Tender palms cradle my stubble,
tremble like the voice in my ear:
Daddy! Daddy! I can't sleep.
Our fears are left unsaid—

muted by moans in the closet,
monsters shuffling under the bed.

Copyright ©2004 by John A. Vanek MD