by William Carlos Williams
They call me and I go.
It is a frozen road
past midnight, a dust
of snow caught
in the rigid wheeltracks.
The door opens.
I smile, enter and
shake off the cold.
Here is a great woman
on her side in the bed.
She is sick,
to give birth to
a tenth child. Joy! Joy!
Night is a room
darkened for lovers,
through the jalousies the sun
has sent one golden needle!
I pick the hair from her eyes
and watch her misery
The title suggests the double meaning of the nature of the complaint. That
is, the narrator's complaint of being called away from his own life to
tend to the medical complaint of one of his patients. Initially, he goes
because it is his duty: "they call me and I go." It is a cold night and he
must drive on a "frozen road," but he is a man who lives up to his
obligations> He will not let those he is tending see his annoyance at being
called out. He will "smile, enter and shake off the cold" when he gets
there. Inside his resentment bubbles up. The middle of the poem focuses on
his own interior complaints, but by the end he is kind toward his patient
"picking hair from her eyes" and watching over her "with compassion."