the weathered hand of a war veteran rests in mine.
but his fingers have never touched a weapon,
nor rivaled an enemy with a face.
the opponent comes from within his body,
and it stalks his health until it cries for mercy.
this war is one of life versus death,
and today it is a battle that is fought in vain.
and though limbs display brave scars and bruises,
no badges adorn his attire
no medals are awarded to honor his combat.
breaths scarcely endure, broken tears are heard,
he suffers the frustration of a slow decay.
liquid salvation is delivered through a needle,
silencing the protests of a body whose
demise descends like a looming shadow.
the linens are drawn close: a white flag of surrender.
a whispered prayer dissolves into the air
surrounding the frail form of the underdog
who never stood a chance.
no one at the bedside understands,
though their eyes beg with questions.
the quiet nothingness of a sedated soul
lingers in the room, and all is still.
the curtains are drawn but light does not enter.
comforting touches distract but cannot heal,
they treat but cannot cure.
there will be no miracles tonight.
Submissions are welcome from oncologists, oncology nurses, and other cancer caregivers. E-mail only, please, to: OT@LWWNY.com, and include affiliation/title, address, and phone number, along with a photo, if available.