Poetry of Kansas

The Country Doctor

In midnight's low cold hour,
Out from a wild wet storm,
Over a taut wire____thin link between the little town
And scattered country houses____
Rings a sharp call.
The doctor, roused from warmth and his deep sleep,
Goes out alone into the maelstrom of the storm;
Through thick night and blind tracks of mud;
Headlights of the little car his only guide,
Save the brief glare of the forked lightning;
His goal, a desolate farmhouse, set stark on a windswept space,
Where a suffering woman prays his help, in an ago-old story of pa
A mother many times, again her hour has come
To endure travail, to add a child
To that bare household, where a crowding brood
Contend for primal needs.
The doctor faces his grim work alone,
Ready to match his kindly care, the skill
Won through long years of work
Against life's mystery of birth.
No white-capped nurse is there, no shining surgical device;
Only a low, hard bed of straw, worn quilts,
The sputter of a coal oil lamp.
Slow hours go by; the labor, done.
By God's grace, both are safe:
The wan, weak mother, with another child to keep, lies spent.
The weary doctor yet must make the hard drive back to town
Through flooding rains, his road a running river.
The fields lie sunk; the ditches deepen;
Bare branches crack and break under the lashing wind.
The small car pushes on. Should the lights fail;
A bolt be lost;
Tired hands falter on the wheel___
The car, careening, slipping, sliding, in the heavy mud,
Would crash into the deep ditch.
There would be sounds of splintered glass, then
To one who waits, cold terror in her heart,
In that gray hour of watching for the dawn, and his return,
No sight more dear than the tired face of him
Who fought and overcame the fury of the night and storm;
Who set so lightly in the scale
His life, his skill in service,
His great worth to all the country side,
Against the weak life of a puny babe,
Another hindrance in the strife for bread and shoes.

__Perle DeVol Evans

Contemporary Kansas Poetry
Helen Rhoda Hoopes
pages 57-58
(Kansas City: Joseph D. Havens Company. 1927)

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February 23, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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