They come with their families
he says, pointing to hospital beds
a mother curled next to her child
two boys sleeping head to toe
one with a tube in his arm
the other keeping him company.
What can we say?
It's not ideal, dangerous in fact,
But we have little choice.
We cannot even enforce visiting hours.
There are not enough beds.
We have filled the hallways with benches
put mattresses on them when we can
The government hospital has more beds
But still they come here.
A woman waits in the corridor
to speak with the Doctor
an infant strung close to her
snug in a nokken twisted out of tree bark.
Malaria beads break on her brow like a flood.
She walked from her village
Four days on foot down steep mountain trails
through glacial streams and dirt paths
finally reaching the hot tarmac of paved road.
She is barefoot.
The calluses on her feet
make her an inch taller than she really is
Still she reaches only my shoulder
That night at the hotel bar, sipping a beer
I watch CNN reporters talk about equality, healthcare and foreign policy.