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Healthy Balance

Poetry Friday: For John

Every week we’re publishing the winning poems from April’s medical poetry contest. This week’s poem was a runner-up in Category III: Grab the (Black) Bag: Miscellaneous Medical Moments.

For John
By Lisa A. Ryan

Like a ram in the thicket, or
an apparition in mist, you were not
there and then you were there, visit just
before surgery, before the almighty
doctors saying, “There’s nothing we can do.”

By our last meal together you’ve begun
starving to death and you’re not-
there-ness is the robe I’m reaching out to touch,
the words you don’t say are the mystery
of the miracle never come to pass.

I expected you to go out like
a martyr, John; battle cry, flames at your torso,
having the last, pure word. I would be
Mary, crying at the tomb for your
there-ness I hadn’t eyes to see.

But you’re slinking off into the
dark garden. Spirit unwilling to wear
weakening flesh, and who wouldn’t take
this cup from you? Your desk is cleared,
see you again soon, no trash in the can.

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