"After some time I found Salomon's ward, the vegetable patch. The old nurse who sat the desk by the door was asleep. Without disturbing her I made my way into the enormous room which housed Salomon's children. The whooshing sound of the groaning iron lungs greeted me. The air was musty; everything seemed covered with a fine, chalky dust. I wondered why whoever had built the hospital had built such an enormous room...and I wondered how many had been built.
I made my way slowly between the rows of beds and iron lungs. I held my breath. I didn't want to rouse them from their sleep, their sleep of death-in-life. I thought of the many times I had turned over large stones while playing along the river, turned them over to watch in fascination and with some repulsion the teeming life which lived beneath the stones. Pale bugs, colorless tendrils, white ants that scurried for the dark, insects that had never seen the sun..
So were the vegetables in the enormous room. They lived in the dark beneath the weight of the hospital. Their pale eyes turned to follow me. I couldn't speak, but I cursed them through clenched teeth. I cursed them because I could move and they couldn't. I feared them like I feared the bugs that lived beneath the stone."
Tortuga, by Rudolfo Anaya
"Anaya brings an unusual perspective to this tale of adolescent experience which incorporates cross-cultural elements unique to the American Southwest. Native American myth and lore provide a backdrop and a particular idea of healing that inform the way disease and health are described; the spiritual dimension is never obliterated by clinical detail. The boy's point of view is sensitively, sometimes exquisitely imagined." Literature, Arts and Medicine Database