Jacob Lawrence, "Surgery, Harlem Hospital" (1953)
Jacob Lawrence, Surgery, Harlem Hospital (1953)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

Five or six very old and shrunken women, sixty pounds lying in fetal position, tubes in arms and hands. Hospital like army barracks, ninety degrees, no staff. A woman has the TV on loud, changes the channel continually.

Our friend is propped with pillows, ugly blue bandage around her neck, tubes taped to veins on the top of one hand. Dazed, feeble. Unable to move her head, and her shift falls down revealing yellow disinfectant covering both shoulders.

Someone says she had a seizure under anesthetic. Visitors to the next bed fart loudly, uncontrollably. It's not known yet whether the operation was a success, or maybe it is known and no-one's communicated. I don't understand why her parents aren't here.

Eight of us have come to visit. In the parking lot after, our flippant, drunken professor wipes tears when he thinks I'm not looking.