Homage to Ars Poetica

A poem should be as bute
As a mobed glute,

Like the song of migrant bum,

Silent as the peeve-warn moan
Of basement edges where the moss does groan–

A poem should be merdless
As the flight of birds

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A poem should be motionless in slime
As the loon mimes

Leaving as the moon releases
In the dark the night-entangled snit–

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A poem should be sequel to:
Not new

For all the mystery of beef
And the seamy cattle thief

For love
The passing gases and two-bites above the knee–

A poem should not bean
But me

copyright 2015 by Stephen W. Hines


Alphabet Speller Cont’d Again


As a musical instrument a kazoo is not new.
They’re straight and tin-made, not bent,
And even its best player can’t pay her rent.
Remember the ZOO in KaZOO;
You’ll be glad if you do.



When two words make one word,/Well, which to recall?/To choose JELLY or FISH/When neither is eaten by man nor by fish./Indeed, a juicy swimmer is its dish.




Some day you’ll choose a job to do/And hope your income is enough for you./Mom and Dad can help you some/To learn the meaning of inCOME.




Honest is as honest does/And tells the truth plain, no fuzz./It’s not just a good thing; it’s the best;/The NEST in hoNEST puts this word to rest.




Eat a plateful of grateful/And let thanks be your lot./The ATE in grATEful/Gives you a lot.




Ten fingers and ten toes–/That’s the way the body grows./How FIN came to be in FINger/Is a question over which we linger.




E. Eddie Edwards likes to entertain/Flying all the kids around in his aeroplane./Though he’s little time to learn to spell/He ENTERtains his guests so very well.




D is for donkey,/So young and so wild./Yet an animal mild–/And loud enough for three–/Let that be your KEY;/Only one beast, though loud enough for three.




Try some fruit and oat cereal/To make a fine morning meal,/And take it hot, right from the pot./That’s the REAL deal.




You never hear the cry, “Play balloon”;/No, “Play ball” are the words you recall./But spelling balloon with a BALL/Gives yourself much more help, and soon




Abundance is long/You’ll probably insist,/But DANCE makes it shorter;/And gives you the gist:/An abunDANCE is not to be missed!



Copyright 2015 by Stephen W. Hines (This online book, or portions of it, may be used by contacting Stephen W. Hines. Permission would be nonexclusive and subject to a modest fee. Simply seek permission through the blog site itself.)

Alphabet Speller cont’d.

Ran across the terrible word “hemorrhage” the other day. The double rr and the hage make the word so tricky, I can’t think of any device that makes it easier. Try major “loss of blood” as a substitute; it’s hardly in any longer than “hemorrhage” when you look at it. But here is some help with other words for which help is available. (All text is copyrighted 2015 by Stephen W. Hines. Poems may be used with permission.)


Although it might be fine and dandy,/Retreat doesn’t mean get a new piece of candy./Retreat means to back off or to hide/From dangerous things both far and wide./The TREAT in retreat is not a defeat/But puts speed to your feet.




The letter u must follow q,/And in that way q gives a clue/To quill, which is spelled with ILL/Q, u and ILL fills the bill.




There are TOES in potatoes,/So one knows how it goes./Let’s sound it out now/And remember Mr. potaTOES.




Oatmeal is a morning deal/To break night’s fast with a MEAL,And OATS are the grain of choice/To give one healthy lungs and voice.




“A narrow Fellow in the Grass”/May be a lizard sneaking past–/Or maybe not. But this I know/ROW makes a shortcut to narrow.




To make your friends feel all at ease/Try good manners, if you please./The MAN in manners would never wheeze/Right in your face, nor even sneeze.




Learn your lesson, you are told,/Can such long study make you old?/No, not if you learn this modest trick/LESS makes lesson mighty quick.





The Alphabet Speller

In the beginning we start off this book concept by taking the alphabet from back to front, so that in the end, when read sequentially, it will all read in order. The last becomes the first, the first last. The Speller is based on the concept that this is a beginning way to start spellers out on the idea that the best way to deal with spelling is to use the trick of remembering a part of a word to deal with the problem of spelling the whole word. Chrysanthemum is easier to spell when you realize there is a “an the mum” in it to help you out. However, when it comes to the spelling of English, or any other language for that matter, there is always a fly in the ointment. Counterfeit is tough to remember because the old rule of “i before e, except after c” does not apply. You must simply remember the “feit” in counterfeit to get the word right. There are no simple tricks for some words. The words to be found in my speller are taken from various word lists that include different grade levels for relatively new-to-the-game spellers. Some words seem too simple for inclusion, some seem too hard. That’s life. (Copyright 2015 by Stephen W. Hines.)


Z word zone
Is Z plus ONE.
Plunge your football into it
And you have won



The EAR in year is easy to hear.
Now suffer the pain of using your brain;
Use your EAR in the spelling of yEAR
Isn’t that all very clear?



Doctors use the x-ray to gaze upon bones,

So look at this word and cease from your moans.

RAY’s the light that shines through an x-RAY

In getting this right and easing your groans.




Warble does the Robin merrily in the spring;

Her song is easier to spell than it is to sing.

WAR, yes, WAR, though not in this bird’s hear,

Gives WARble an easy start.




All of us have our very own voice
And trade it we’d not, though given a choice.
Does voICE sound like it spells? No, it does not!
But the ICE in our voice helps us a lot.



When Mary stood UP ’twas in utter good fright,
Though in her sound mind she knew all was all RIGHT.
Firm in conviction that right does make might,
Two words helped her to stand straight and UP RIGHT.



You’ve heard that your parents do pay them,

Thought they may think them absurd.

They’d rather grind axes than utter this word;

Yet tAXES and AXES are not really so grim.




Seasons may refer to spring or to summer, to fall or to winter;
Those parts of the year called seasons and with good reasons.
Either remember the SEA or recall the SONS.
SEA and SONS–that’s how it runs.


Music City U.S.A.

Music City U.S.A.

     Song-maker for the country,
Musician’s heartbreaker,
Singer of sad songs,
Singer of bad songs,
Singer of honky-tonk and bluegrass,
City of country Muzak:

They tell me for every talent there are five no-talents here
who make it through public relations glitz, and I believe it.
And they tell me you are marketer of song-slop and same-sounding drivel–
The country boy is all slicked up with an attitude.
And they tell me you’ve sold your soul for hits, and I
believe it, because you’re nothing without a hit
except a guitar bagman playing for change at Fifth and Church.
They say you’re drunk, on stage and off, and I believe it. I’ve seen you
puking in the gutter. I’ve seen you fall down on the stage
and curse your mother. You are drunk and a legend for being drunk.

Oh, the pure soul you had when you first came to this town,
sober and free and singing only what was in your heart to sing!
Beauty was in your voice, painful and sweet. A pang of yearning
ran through your throat and into the hearts of your wondering listeners.
Then an agent heard you and knew what you needed: touch people
and you touch nobody. You must touch the Public.
And he twisted you into a cheap, plastic souvenir from Music Row.

Yet I have an answer to those who sneer at this town:

Come show me another city that wets its pants and laughs
and goes on as if nothing had happened,
A city with this barbaric yawp in its soul, the music of
Greedy, blue-blooded, red-necked and corrupting its talent.
Strong under the twang and the strum of the jack-hammer
Lies this city, growing, renewing, marketing, singing, forever singing its song.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Yes, maybe Hank Williams was real and true, but does it matter?
Away from the neon, out by the shadows along the river,
all you can hear is a whisper of him, a cry along the shore,
as his old, pure songs bleed away in the night.

Copyright 2014, revised by Stephen W. Hines

Love’s Passion Finis

Copyright 2014 by Stephen W. Hines


“But how can I do that, Rance? I don’t see–”

“It’s this way, Sarah . . . such a lovely name . . . such a dear, adorable name . . . that was Everett Buncombe on the phone. He was a former patient of mine and is soon to be a patient again, although he doesn’t know it yet. Because the fact is . . . the truth is . . . he has never been quite well since I operated on him some months ago. Indeed, he’s been quite ill since that time, and it’s been puzzling him very much. He comes to me regularly with complaints, but I’ve been putting him off. You see, the truth is, Sarah, I know perfectly well what his problem is, but I can’t do anything about it. It’s been maddening and has driven me far from the madding crowd, if you know what I mean. Now something simply must be done!”

Sarah’s head swirled with confusion. What could he be talking about? Had he chosen a lobotomy when he should have chosen an appendectomy?

But without giving her a chance to ponder further, Dr. Chutney rushed on. His next words came almost as a convulsion: “Buncombe is not getting well because . . . because I . . . I left his stomach stapled shut when I operated on his ulcer. He’s got a backlog of food debris filling his gut that is awful. And his breath . . .  Sarah, don’t look at me that way. Sarah–!”

Sarah had lurched backward, visibly shaken. She had always thought she could stand up to anything, but to find out that surgeons ever made such humdingers was almost beyond comprehension. She looked into Dr. Chutney’s pleading eyes. As she did she did so, she felt a rising anguish, for she saw  both love and torment there. Her heart went out to the prestigious idiot.

Dr. Chutney was down on his knees as he burst forth again: “You’ve got to help me. I must operate now, before it is too late. Tonight! Will you help me? Say you will!”

Sarah thought feverishly. Could she love this man? Wasn’t he incompetent? She wonder. And then she wondered that she wondered; for, after all, he was so compelling, so helpless, so handsome, so solemn and so vulnerable. “Oh, Dr. Chutney–Rance. Don’t look at me that way! You’ll break my heart!”

“Sarah, don’t turn your face away!” he said commandingly, a new note of resolve in his voice. “Look at me. I’ve adored you from the day you first startled me into speech. You can see that I love you, that I need you. Can you forgive a poor, but modestly wealthy, fool? I ask you again. Will you help me–tonight?”

Sarah got up off the love seat–on which she had taken refuge–and stood for a moment in silent agony. Finally, she responded to his pleading. Her reserve collapsed like the melting of a great iceberg. “God, help me!” she breathed. “I will!”

* * *

After the guests had all departed–ushered out by the butler well before midnight–all was in preparation. Then, though they tried to stop it, midnight came. As Mackintosh took Buncombe’s coat and hat, the butler slugged the old man over the head with a lead paperweight, rendering him senseless. Then the conspirators all gathered round and carried him to the kitchen, where the operation began immediately.

Using sugar tongs and paper clips as clamps, they shut off errant blood flow, and Dr. Chutney opened Buncombe’s stapled stomach, much to its relief. For a while the stench was extreme, as rotting food rose to the surface of the stomach’s distended cavity. As fainting fits serially attacked the feverish workers, they kept on, and sometime toward morning it was all over. Sarah asked breathlessly, “Will he be all right? Will he live? He’s lost so much blood, Rance.”

 “Yes, he’ll be all right. His hematoma count is rising; that’s a good sign. And now with this new wonder drug I’m going to give him, he’ll never remember this happened at all–in fact, he might lose his memory altogether.”

Dr. Chutney’s eyes brightened at the thought.

“But won’t he notice he’s been reoperated on? I don’t understand. How can we get away with this? The razor blades and paring knives–ugh! It’s madness!”

“No, it isn’t. Listen! While he is under the influence of P-202, I will give him a postoperative suggestion–and he won’t remember anything that’s happened. Mackintosh will sterilize the whole kitchen; maybe even burn it down. Buncombe will recuperate in Florida where he’ll probably meet a stewardess and live happily ever after eating baby food. Sarah, oh Sarah, you’ve been such a brick through all of this. Let’s get married and have three children, two boys and a girl on a large lot, and settle down.”

“Yes, Rance, I accept. Two girls and a boy would be fine, if we could have maybe a small dog and a canary.”

Together, they clung to each other in a shy but vigorous embrace while Dr. Chutney, with his free arm, continued to pump the supine, insensible Everett Buncombe ever more full of P-202, the future bright with promise and enduring love.

May all their dreams come true!

Love’s Passion marches on

Copyright 2014 by Stephen W. Hines


With the song “Tonight, Tonight” from West Side Story running through her head, Sarah rang Dr. Chutney’s doorbell. She had never seen his place before. Not a bad looking pad, she thought, as she stepped back to admire the Greco-Roman terracotta frieze that bordered the driveway, hydrangeas drooping over the esplanade.

The butler opened the door. “Please come in, Miss Samuels. Dr. Chutney is expecting you, as you may have realized. You will find the party on the patio, drinking. My name is Mackintosh. Could I get you a scotch? I think I’ll have one myself.”

Sarah hesitated. How could she let him know she didn’t drink? “Why no, thank you, I don’t drink while I’m off duty.”

She found the guests all cozily ensconced on the patio. There was an air of festivity about the gathering, but there was a note of uneasiness too. She wondered if the others sensed the nature of Dr. Chutney’s troubles. Were there other sensitive souls like herself at the gathering? Was he going to confide in them also? She decided to mingle with the gaily-strewn Chinese lanterns and the gaily strewn guests to find out more about this sense of unease she sensed.

She had not mingled more than a moment when she realized there was something strange, all right. Where was Dr. Chutney himself? He was not on the patio nor in the pool nor in the Jacaranda overhead. She sidled over to the patio doors and looked into the house itself.

At first, she couldn’t see anything. Then, as her eyes became adjusted to the light, she noticed the solitary figure of the Chief of Surgery standing by the fireplace. She went in and stood beside him in a moment of silent vitality. Their hands trembled electrically. Their eyes met, and for several sacred seconds they stared at one another–until their eyes watered. Finally, they averted their gaze and stared at the fireplace, which was unlit but interesting.

Sarah agonized in Dr. Chutney’s presence. He seemed so near, yet so far away. What she could do to break the spell she didn’t know. Then the phone rang.

Mackintosh answered it, and as he did so, his countenance changed from what it had been to something darker. He hurried to his master’s side, and as he whispered in the doctor’s ear, she saw Ransom’s face go white. As she glanced down to be sure she wasn’t standing on his foot, she heard him croak in a whisper, “Yes, tell him to come over. It can’t be avoided any longer. His condition has reached a crisis. Tell him–midnight.”

As the butler returned the phone to its cradle, Sarah saw Dr. Chutney pass both hands over his face. He was dripping wet and trembling. She could stand it no longer. Deciding that the direct approach was best, she took both of his hands in her own and in her tenderest voice said, “Dr. Chutney, dear, sweet, Dr. Chutney, won’t you tell me what is the matter? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost.”

Dr. Chutney allowed himself to be drawn away from the view of the patio doors and they sat down together on a love seat. After a moment’s struggle, during which Dr. Chutney seemed to throw caution to the wind, he said, “I have seen a ghost, Sarah. It’s my own! It is the ghost of a dreadful mistake I made that has haunted me relentlessly for some time now. I have committed a blunder, a surgical blunder, Miss Samuels. Yes, and now it has come back to haunt me! But before I go further with my confession, dear little one–for it is a confession I’m making–you must promise to help me.”

His voice rose. “You must promise to redeem me and my career from utter ruin!”

Love’s Passion continues to get hotter

Copyright 20114 by Stephen W. Hines


“Come, come nurse Samuels. Surely you can use a better word than that. I hope we will not continue to hear such sentimental simpering from one of our own! We are professionals here. Our highest duty is to give every patient the kick in the rear he needs to get him our of here. Don’t talk to me of love. The little brats grow up, don’t they? No doubt we’ll whip you into shape in no time. They all come out of school muttering like you at first, but we set them straight! Now wipe those tears off your face and stop trembling. You’ll get used to me after a while and find me gruff, but kindly, with a heart of gold. Now beat it, the both of you.”

But before Sarah could leave St. Luther’s for the day, go home, and throw herself on her bed in anguish, she still had to visit the surgery. Darla and Sarah soon arrived at a green baize door marked “Surgery–Off Limits” and went in.

“This is surgery, Sarah,” Darla began. “Over there, sharpening a scalpel, is Dr. Lance Buboes, and there are Drs. Smithe and Wayne (pointing), and nurse Murphy and nurse Simpson. Am I going too fast for you?”

As Sarah dried her eyes and tried to clear her head, she began to pay attention to what Darla was saying, and she noticed one of the surgeons had his back to them. “Who is that standing over in the corner with his back to us?”

“Oh, I’m glad you noticed him. That’s Dr. Chutney. Maybe you’ve heard of him–Dr. Ransom Chutney. He’s the strong, silent type. He often uses his eyebrows to browbeat the nurses. A real terror. Some of us think he suffers from a Secret Sorrow. We often find him tearing up over Good Housekeeping in the waiting room.  Let me introduce you. You’ll find him fascinating–if you can get him to talk.”

“Dr. Chutney, could you speak with us for a minute? I would like to introduce you to our new nurse,” Darla asked.

Dr. Chutney, who had not seen them approach, started as though shot, but regained his composure quickly and turned around.

“Dr. Chutney, this is Sarah Samuels, who will be in pediatrics. Sarah, this is Dr. Chutney, our Chief of Surgery.”

As Sarah gazed upon Dr. Chutney’s full visage, bells went off. She was utterly stunned by his dark, handsome masculinity. He had chest hair growing out his ears. He was the spitting image of Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, and Miley Cyrus, depending on which mood he chose to be in. His mood changed several times while he stood before them. It was as though he were Mt. Rushmore being swept by the seasons.

“Why, how do you do, nurse Samuels? I hope you will like it here at St. Luther’s.”

Sarah regained her voice. “Yippee! I think I’ll like this place just . . . that is, I hope . . . I’m sure I will have a satisfactory adjustment here, Dr. Chutney. Nurse Dunn has been showing me the ropes. I’m so excited that I shall at last be able to put the noble ideals I learned at school to work for the betterment of humankind.”

She noticed a sudden change sweep over the noble young doctor (for so she sensed him to be). He darkened visibly. “Yes, noble ideals, noble ideals . . .,” he murmured for several minutes, looking like a troubled eagle.

Then, suddenly, he came to himself. “Yes, nurse Samuels, noble ideals. Never forget them. Always live by them. I’m sure they will serve you in good stead.”  He spoke with an odd intensity, as if his own ideals not only guided but also hound him.

It was all such a mystery.

They bid each other goodbye, but as Sarah left, words could not express the strange, almost wonderful, emotions that coursed through her veins. Who was this man who had suddenly made her heart go pitty-pat in a drum solo? What did she know about him? What had he murmured about ideals? Why did he give the impression of being a driven, almost desperate man? Was there more to medicine than money perhaps? She couldn’t say.

And so the mystery of Ransom Chutney, M.D., became ever more of a preoccupation as the months flew by. She simply could not fathom his behavior. At times he seemed almost suicidal. Once she caught him actually holding a scalpel to his throat, but he’d gotten out of that situation by saying he was shaving. Another time she found him floating face down in the therapy pool. When she revived him, he said he had “slipped” and fallen in.

So it went until the day Sarah found a note in her mailbox. It read: Dear Sarah, I can’t stand it anymore. If you will come to a little informal gathering I’m having this evening, I will tell you all. I need your help. Desperately yours, Ransom Chutney, M.D.

As she pondered the message of this personal note, her eyes bulged. So at last she was to know. She felt like flying or at least like leaping tall buildings with a single bound. He was going to take her into his confidence! Sarah literally floated through the rest of her day. And now she lay on her bed, reflecting, reflecting. . . . What would she find tonight? Would it be love? Or only more mystery?

[To be continued.]

Love’s Passion Alight continued (being entry two)

Copyright 2014 by Stephen W. Hines


. . . . Naturally, Sarah had been persecuted for coming from the wrong side of the tracks. High school had been a nightmare for her. So she had redoubled her scholastic efforts and decided on a career in nursing because it was a truly noble profession where one could serve others–and show creeps and snobs like her schoolmates what real deserving virtue and humility were. Sarah wanted to do good but be tough.

Of course, she never made less than an A in any of her courses in high school or college. She joined many organizations to prove that she was a joiner and did much church volunteer work to show that she was a volunteer. She made all of her own clothes and became an excellent gardener to supplement her meager diet with fresh vegetables. Sometimes she even gave her folks left-over produce. She even learned how to raise chickens in the attic so the family could enjoy fresh meat and eggs.

And her privations had not been in vain. They had won her a full-paid scholarship to State University.

All she had to do to keep her scholarship was to work from eight to five in the food center; then knock-off for half-an-hour before doing light, miscellaneous research from 5:30 to 10 pm; then knock-off until midnight, when she went to work as a guard in a potato factory.

Yes, all the years of privation and starvation had paid off. She had won her coveted cap and degree–with honors–and now stood before the green baize doors of St. Luther’s Hospital, wondering, wondering what she would find waiting for her behind them.

* * *

     Sarah got up from the bed and stretched a bit. What had she been looking for? What had she been looking for at St. Luther’s Hospital when she had first come to work several months ago?

     She sat back down on the bed and let her mind wander, which it readily did when she was thinking.

     Yes, there had been adjustments to make, but she had been ready and eager to make them. She knew what to expect from the real world of nursing; her high school and college study had prepared her for that. Also, she had wet her own bed as a child and knew what that was all about. Little could shock her.

     Still, there had been some surprises.

     For one thing, St. Luther’s Hospital had been so large, larger than even she had been led to expect by her own expectations.  It had been impossible to get acquainted with very many people. Everything was so efficient and functional–and understaffed.

     Sarah’s thoughts now flew to the one who had become her best friend. What a support she had been! From the very first day she had been taken under wing and shown what ropes there were to show by Darla Dunn. Sarah couldn’t imagine how she would have survived without Darla. The two nurses had had an impressive melange of experiences.

      There had been that confrontation with head nurse Borden, who had ordered Sarah to give enemas to everyone in intensive care. That had been the first time that she had stood up for what she thought was a preferable course of treatment: laxatives.

There had been the hospital itself to learn, with its multiple floors, dead ends, and corridors leading to who knows where (and the morgue of the living dead, but maybe her imagination was getting away from her). And where were the restrooms? It had all been so confusing.

Especially upsetting had been the strain of meeting all of those people! There was the peculiar fellow in Room 405 who kept proposing to her, and the funny old woman in 406 who kept tearing her bed sheets up and setting them on fire.

Then there were the doctors. They were the most perplexing lot of all. Some were curt and dismissed you with a slap on the head, while others were just as nice as a starving used car dealer trying to sell you a 1957 Cadillac. Many of them seemed preoccupied with their specialties and somehow out of touch with reality. Doctor Adams in particular seemed a zombie until someone would mention yachting. Then it was yawl this and yawl that. You’d have thought he was from Alabama.

Most troubling of all had been her intense but confusing relationship with Dr. Ransom Chutney, Chief of Intestinal Surgery. She remembered well (or was about to remember well) her first meeting with him. It had been, in fact, during her first day of her clinical life. . . .

Darla Dunn had set off at a break-neck pace, and they had covered floor after floor and mile after mile, stopping to greet a myriad of faces. There had been nurses Pursley and Hanon, Drs. Wheately, Morris, and Joeblownowski. She had been told that she would work in each section of the hospital for a week to familiarize herself with procedures before being turned loose on patients. She would work a week in surgery, a week in pediatrics, a week in dianetics, and a week in splenetics. She would also work a week in the kitchen and the laundry. Not stone would be left unturned in her training.

For instance, there was this Borden woman.

When Darla first took Sarah to meet the head nurse, they found her sandpapering a hypodermic. She seemed perturbed at being interrupted. Darla had put on her cheeriest smile and made the introductions.

“Nurse pig . . . I. . . mean . . . nurse Borden, I would like you to meet our new nurse, Sarah Samuels. Sarah, this is Elsie Borden. She is the head of nursing here. We couldn’t . . . uh . . . get along with out her.”

Sarah looked at nurse Borden uncomfortably. In fact, she noticed the head nurse had taken out a magnifying glass and was looking at her through it.

“I think I see a bit of smut on your uniform, Miss Samuels. What have you been doing? Playing in the mud? We must do better than that around here. Ours is a life-and-death struggle against disease and despair. A person who brings dust into the hospital will, the next thing you know, be spreading staph to the patients. Staff spreading staph! Ha! Do you get it? See that you are always clean, neatly attired, and wearing white, regulation shoes. No sneakers here! Now, where is it you’re supposed to be stationed after we teach you something? Speak, child! Cat got your tongue?”

“I’ll be in p-pediatrics, sir. I just . . . I love children and–”

[To be continued.]


Love’s Passion Alight–A Story Serially Presented on these Pages

Copyright 2014 by Stephen W. Hines

     Sarah Samuels peered reflectively into her jewelry box. She was searching for earrings. Where had she put them? Bangles, bobbles, beadswas this all there was to life? She had no answers and shook her head impatiently as she searched further.

     I’ll be late if I don’t find them. Why am I so nervous? These were not the first questions she had asked herself since coming to know Ransom Chutney, Chief of Surgery at St. Luther’s Hospital. But at last it looked as though she was going to get to the bottom of their very disturbing, puzzling relationship. Almost from the time they had met, Dr. Chutney–called Chut by his friends–had seemed as thought he were under a dark cloud, as though he could see some threatening storm on the horizon–a storm that threatened their growing affection for each other. How, how, how–she spoke to herself in American Indian–had this all come about?

     As she sat looking into the opacity of her fingernails, Sarah went back in her mind over the last few years of her brief, turbulent life.

     A scene flashed before her inner eye, plunging her mind into the turgidity of her soul. It had been her first day at St. Luther’s. She remembered how she had stood before the green baize door of her first clinical experience, considering in fear whether or not to run while there was still time or to stay. But even as she hesitated, resolve entered her soul! No, She could not throw away the sacrifice of her youth on the altar of cowardice! In her epiphany of self-abasement, she realized she had nothing to fear but suffering; and, if that was to be her lot, why, she was ready. She knew the path to the top was not strewn with rose petals but rather with thorns and porcupines.

* * *

     Sarah began to drift further in reverie. She recalled how she had been born to simple, brilliant, devout parents who had sacrificed to send her through college and nursing school so that she might fulfill her life-long ambition to become a nurse, meet a rich, handsome, mysterious, frightening doctor–and marry him. Sarah thought of how her mother had worked long hours as a dishwasher during the day, and how she had worked as a cleaning lady during the night to make Sarah’s career possible. Nurse Samuels reflected on the fact that she hardly knew her mother and wished there had been time to become better acquainted.

     Oh, the curse of poverty! she thought bitterly, if it were possible for bitter thoughts to cross this sweet woman’s pure mind.

     Poverty had forced her father to supplement his meager income as a concert violinist by tuning pianos from early in the morning until late in the evening. At night, he worked at a loathsome job stuffing sausages in a local packing plant. Sarah’s cheeks flushed with shame as she remembered the coarsening effect this job had had on her father’s language. Sometimes he would burst out: “S– S– S–,” as though her were stuttering obscenities. Then, too, because of her father’s work, there was the aroma of Stravinsky and the stockyard about him. It was an odor that pervaded the home. She remembered how it had embarrassed her to introduce Mom and Dad to her friends: very often her parents fell asleep during the introductions.

     Of course, there had been the gnawing hunger, the sleepless nights full of oatmeal and gaseous discharges. Occasionally. there had been a lone apple, but mostly she just drove the birds from the bird feeder. Better them lying about in the snow than her.

     Naturally, Sarah had also been persecuted for coming from the wrong side of the tracks.