“Your eyes are an extension of your brain, so when I look into your eyes, I can see your brain”
–Dr. Bonny, Ugandan resident at Mbale Regional Hospital
The concrete floor, the metal beds, the putrid smells,
Mbale is not a place the well present,
With 36 beds in ward 8 & 9 all waiting for death,
No cost to die in this barrack,
The medicine, the fluids, the food costs,
But a discharge to no earthly dwelling comes at no price.
All brown eyes, yellowed with jaundice,
Weak with fever, hunger, no smiles,
All the eyes are sad, hopeless, betraying despair.
The pen light shows a pupil—equal, round, reactive to light
But unreactive to joy, unresponsive to hope
Can your eyes smile when the virus is eating
Your lungs, your love,
Your income, your children?
Sad eyes are the incurable complaint
And cohere the victims of Wards 8 and 9
And they all become one.
And where there is one despair,
Then there you find one panacea
A Savior who can make sad eyes smile
I hear a muttering, a humming,
I am told the one humming is a pastor,
I feel him making a prayer to God,
As he stands next to bed 19 in Wards 8 and 9.
She will die, cease her labored breathing,
But she will die with her eyes shut,
Until Jesus’ light is let in
No more dark, putrid stench to fight
No more long walks on dirt highways,
No more carrying daily dirty water,
She hears him, no, she can see,
With Glad eyes, tearless
Bed 19 is home.