Night, a hush falls in the ICU
A lullaby of humming fluorescents, beeping monitors
Nurses move with economy
Doctors on a brief hiatus from rounding

Patients poised on the frontier
Too warm, too cold, too low, too high
Programmed breaths and alchemy in their veins
Dreaming kaleidoscopic dreams

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night1

I sit heavily on the tall swivel chair
Looking at the last chart
My coat at the ready
The radio plays softly overhead

Piano arpeggios and strings pulling, pulling
I listen, lean back,
Rest my hand, and watch it move

As inside me, my own nightswimmer
Begins his series of fluid gymnastics

And I feel nostalgic for things that haven’t yet happened

1R.E.M., "Nightswimming," in Automatic for the People, Warner Bros. Records, 1992, CD.

Rajani LaRocca is a practicing internal medicine doctor and writer from Concord, MA. Nightswimmers recounts her experience as a senior resident in the ICU at Massachusetts General Hospital, when she was 8 months pregnant with her first child.