Tag Archives: doctor

The Doctor

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

He was the head
of Oncology,
a great mountain of a man
who wore a beautiful suit.

He greeted the young man
who was dying and his parents.

When the young man’s friends
went above the doctor’s head
to try to get him admitted
to another hospital,
for they loved the young man,

the doctor never came back
to check on the dying man,
but sent his assistant—

would not acknowledge the parents
when they saw him in the hallways.

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Sonnet 40

by Thomas Davis

The doctor, looking down at him, her voice
as soft as early springtime rains: “I hate
how cancer takes a person, steals their choice,
and makes inevitable their certain fate.”
She paused, a stranger. Then she shook her head.
“He was extraordinary. You can tell.”
She gently touched his clutched-tight hand, the bed…

“He asks the nurses how they are. The hell
he’s going through, he wants to know if they’re okay.”
She sighs and looks at Ethel, then at me.
“This ward is tough. Old cancer never plays,
but does his business, never lets us plea

for mercy.” Silence. “Fighting him is hard.
He leaves us memories, our lives in shards.”

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Sonnet 18

by Thomas Davis

The doctor said what needed to be said.
We asked the questions that we had to ask.
Compassion lined the doctor’s careful mask.
She held him; he held her; the awful dread
we’d felt at seeing him so weak in bed
now turned into a nightmare, a formal masque
that left our darkest primal fears unmasked,
our sense of living shattered, left in shreds.

How long? he asked the doctor as he sighed.
The doctor said, two weeks, some hours, some days.
She bent her head into his lap and cried;
he sobbed, his mother cried; I fought the haze
unmanning me. What could we do? I tried

to think, but, looking at my son, was dazed.

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Butterfly

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The yellow and black swallowtail
came to the window

(I told you because
you were looking for a sign—
so you could leave).

The doctor said,
“Hours or weeks.”
We all wept together.
Hours would have been more humane.

Do you remember
when you were little,
and you asked,

“When you die
do you close your eyes
and go to sleep?”

‘Yes,” I said.

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