Shattering Glass by Logan Shearon
My name is Logan Shearon, and I am a 2nd year PA student at Wake Forest. I fell in love with the art of storytelling at an early age and I have been writing poems and short stories ever since. One of my favorite things about practicing medicine is the privilege to not only listen to people's stories, but to become a small part of them as well. Narrative medicine is the perfect combination of these two passions of mine. It allows us a space to try and understand the people around us: to empathize with their pain and to acknowledge their complex, unique life experiences. I wrote this poem during my Behavioral Health rotation after a long, vulnerable conversation I had with a patient recovering from alcohol use disorder. It is a story of suffering, heartache, and above all else, hope.
I check my watch again to make sure,
As if time itself would lie to me.
Table 5 just ordered a cheeseburger with chili fries,
Along with the same dark beer
I downed before starting my shift.
The cook is shouting again so I shuffle to the kitchen.
The hot plate leaves yet another brand on my hands.
I have to run this appetizer out before…
I’m flagged down by the prickly lady at Table 7.
She demands her third glass of Chardonnay,
Even though we both know she’s actually on her fourth.
Back to the bar to grab the round of shots
For the college kids at table 3,
Who almost certainly won’t tip.
Might as well grab another for myself too.
I deserve it.
Have I really been here 11 years?
The Christmas lights above the bar twinkle,
Giving the illusion that we’re under the stars.
But there haven’t been lights in this sky for years.
It sounds almost musical,
Like chimes on a windy afternoon.
It must have come from the back.
I take two steps forward to investigate.
Man, my feet are killing me tonight.
I look down.
A deep, red rivulet is curling its way towards the drain.
There are shards of glass reflecting the twinkle lights above.
The whole bar has eyes on me.
Is someone yelling?
I’m doing too much spinning to tell.
Maybe I should close my eyes.
Yes, okay that feels better.
I don’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep.
The sound of the glass still rings in my ears,
I can’t understand this gruff voice breathing on me.
I can feel flashing lights knocking at my eyes but I refuse to let them in.
Someone has thrust my body into the wintry night air,
The sweat that coats my skin has turned to ice.
My thoughts start to sharpen.
They told me this would happen.
But these voices just keep treading water.
What will it take to drown them?
I swallow it down,
Try to push myself up.
Fear descends with a thunderous crack.
My mind is trudging through a dense fog.
I turn my head to the side,
A cacophony of pops and cracks.
My eyes, cautiously adjusting.
Light filters through my broken blinds.
I reach for the glass on my nightstand.
Quickly, I yank my hand back.
An endless trail of spiders
Has weaved webs around my arm.
I feel hundreds of teeth sink into my flesh.
I scratch at my arms,
Roiling in my sheets,
The dripping, wet fabric is stuck to my skin.
You’ll feel so much better if you just QUIT.
It’ll be easy.
You’ll get your life back,
My stomach has launched a revolt.
I do not blame it,
As I throw myself over the edge.
I find the strength to reach for my glass,
To wash away the acid and bile,
But I have lost any semblance of control.
The glass hits the ground with a deafening crack,
Shards decorate the beautiful, green carpet
That I once bought on a happy whim.
I could end this.
Here and now.
I have every reason in the world…
They’d all get over me,
I’d be nothing but a fading memory.
A burden lifted from their shoulders.
That’s not me
I know I can get better.
But I can’t do it alone.
I get that now.
I need help.
Her mouth is hidden by a crinkled blue mask,
But her eyes are kind.
I run through the questions she’s asked me.
What do you hope the future holds after this?
How can we work together to get you there?
Tell me something that brings you joy.
She sits on the twin bed across from my own,
With the same dull, grey blanket
That does little to ward off the cold.
I struggle to find the words.
She is patient
As she watches me wring my hands together.
I used to love reading:
Fantasies, thrillers, romance,
Before the shaking made it hard to hold the book.
Tears muddle my vision,
My throat tightens against my will.
Thinking about all the moments I’ve lost to this disease.
She clasps my hand,
We take a deep breath together.
Her eyes are steady on mine.
You can do this.
Whether it works this time
Or twenty times from now
You are trying.
You are worthy.
You are stronger than you think.
I close my eyes
Pick up my shattered pieces,
Hopeful that one day,
I can glue them back together.