You took your first breath,

Letting out a scream as the air hit your lungs,

As though the dry harmattan wind grated and stung,

I wrapped you in my arms’ length –

Arms that caught you.


Many times later, to see me you’d come,

I would equip you to survive this dirty world,

You would fight me, but I’ll still draw blood,

You would draw too; teeth and nails reaching for my arms –

Arms that protected you.


You would be brought to me one stormy night,

Your life seeping out through bullet holes,

I’d change dressings, until we, like your wound, would become close,

“Thank you” , you’d say as you squeezed my arms tight –

Arms that saved you.


Love would find you, you would marry,

Love would plant seeds, you would bear fruit,

I would help harvest as more fruits followed suit,

In pain your grip on my arm would tarry –

Arms that delivered you .


You would wizen, you would wither,

You would tell me of longing, you would tell me of regret,

You would miss your children,  you would fear neglect,

You would hold my arms,  we would say a prayer –

Arms that strengthened you.


I would watch you die,

These arms would retire,

A thousand more arms would pick up the fire,

Watching over as your generations go by –

Arms that tend to your family tree.


I am male,

Arms macho, mind mature

I am female,

Soft, slender and sure.

I am well armed… I am a Nurse.


A poem for international Nurse’s day – May 12 – by Udeh Harrison

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