Hospice told my husband what to expect
as his father’s death approached,
eyes open but unseeing.
Crush the morphine,
mix with water,
spoon into his gaping mouth
every two hours.
The death rattle started,
though we had never
heard it before.
We did what we could,
smoothing his hair,
holding his hand,
another dose of morphine.
I prayed the rosary silently,
counting the decades
with my fingers.
When he quieted,
breath slow, gentle,
we woke his wife
of fifty-one years.
She lay beside him that last hour.
with pauses between,
longer still –
until, near dawn,
no next breath comes.
We switch off
the oxygen concentrator.
Joanne Corey lives and writes in Vestal, New York, where she is active with the Binghamton Poetry Project, Sappho’s Circle, and the Bunn Hill Poets. Recent publications include Candles of Hope anthology (GWL Publishing, UK), the anthologies of the Binghamton Poetry Project, Wilderness House Literary Review, and several online series with Silver Birch Press. She invites you to visit her eclectic blog, https://topofjcsmind.wordpress.com.
Very moving poem!
Thank you so much, Robin.
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Well crafted, Joanne.
Thank you, Robert. That means a lot, coming from you.
Powerful poem, Joanne. Stirred many emotions within me.
Thank you, Lori. Although this is a particular story from my life, the elements of the story are ones which we all encounter at some point.
You are most welcome, Joanne… and indeed, your words are universal… I think most of us can relate 🙂
Your words leave space for the dignity and honor our loved ones deserve. As miraculous our beginnings, even more sacred our end in death. Thanks for sharing Joanne.
Thank you, Judy. I so appreciate your perspective. It took years before I could write about this experience and I am grateful that I was able to convey some of the spiritual aspect of death.
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It was as if I was there in the room, in a corner near the door, watching, barely breathing.
Thank you, JoAnna, for reading and commenting.
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