The diagnosis of brother’s rare cancer
sparks her into a frenzy of research
every cell bent on sleuthing
knowing, understanding the enemy.
The answering machine and no call back
when we ring the farm likely means
more medical trips
(later photos of him
in radioactive quarantine
show her, like a prison wife
on the other side of the window)
or a vacation to the east coast
or a weekend at a folk festival
or in the mountains skiing.
She is behind this compression
of a premature retirement
into the months, weeks, days…
all the while keeping track of his meds
his appointments, his symptoms
his pains, being a pill herself
when the doctors aren’t forthcoming.
We come to visit
when things have progressed suddenly
to a painful stay in palliative care.
She directs the traffic
to and from his room
and when everyone else is seated
and she has given him ice chips
adjusted his nasal tube
and tidied his bedside tray
jumps up to sit beside him
on the hospital bed
but like a bird
soon flits away again
though sometimes her bird-bright
blue eyes are rimmed with red
and swim in teary
beds of their own.
© 2010 by Violet Nesdoly