Danny’s Mastoid Surgery (poem)

Danny’s Mastoid Surgery

Dad blew smoke in Danny’s aching ear. A neighbor
noticed the swelling. The Dexter doctor said to take
our four-year-old to Des Moines. Dad and Danny
boarded the train while Mom and the rest of us
stayed home. My twelve-year-old brother cried.
Dad came home alone. He’d watched them
cut away bone to drain the mastoid. No visiting
for ten days, the nurses had warned, so Danny
wouldn’t cry to go home. But Mom ‘phoned the nurses
every day until they said we could come get him.
Our hearts were hopeful when we chugged all the way
to the big-city hospital in our Model-T. Danny,
his head all bandaged and toenails polished by the nurses,
spied Mom’s hat. He laughed and cried all at once.
He reached out for her, spilling crayons everywhere.
Doris, Clabe holding Danny, Delbert, Donald is in the back seat. Methodist Hospital, Des Moines, Iowa, 1927. Photo taken by Leora Wilson.


  1. Your story snippets always dig my own long forgotten memories. I stayed overnight in the Boone County Hospital after a tonsillectomy at three or four. I remember the smells of being put to sleep, of waking wanting ice cream, of the hospital room, of being so happy when my mother came into the room. Just as Danny must have felt.

    • That means you were given ether. My tonsillectomy was when I was 6, my cousin 5, and my sister was 4. I have a clipping about it, as they published who was in the hospital and when they were released in those small-town days.

  2. I want to purchase a copy. Please keep us updated on the release date. Live your writing.

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