Poetry by Cancer Caregivers

Langer, Corey J. MD

Oncology Times:
doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000440867.18283.c5
Poetry

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    At Grover's Mill Pond

    DAD

    I'm waiting for an image, A spark, the brilliant sun Is insufficient Clear blue sky seems to fold me In its embrace But it does not give me What I seek

    I hear the geese, thousands banter Roused from silence by a hidden cue Some glide onto the pond, halting themselves Like tomcats on the Kittyhawk; others splash From afar, the sudden sun-dappled spray Looks like the fountains of Versailles, Just as uncontainable

    Without the ceaseless gaggle Grover's Mill, partially iced, would be utterly inaudible

    DAD

    We interred you yesterday You lie six feet under The gravediggers planted concrete blocks at the head And on either side of your casket So it would not shift after flooding rains

    You'd be proud; The American flag Draped your coffin An honor guard from Fort Dix Removed it Folded it religiously, Then handed it off To Mom

    First taps Then Kaddish Front and center In the bitter cold Each mourner shoveled A bit of dirt and dropped it With a ceremonial thud Atop the wooden coffin So you would not be buried Entirely by strangers.

    DAD

    At Grover's Mill Pond The geese convention accepts new delegates There are no powerpoint presentations Just incessant chatter They look like the origami you crafted Out of vagrant, unused napkins

    In conclaves of six or seven On the thinning ice or open water they convene and debate pressing questions alien to my own

    All the snow that fell Just before we stopped the ventilator And removed the drips Has melted

    Except for my tears, Which fall again The bright blue skies are empty And the earth is dry.

    Corey J. Langer, MD, is Professor of Medicine and Chief of Thoracic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center, Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

    A former President of Delaware Valley Poets, a grassroots group based in Lawrenceville, NJ, that conducts monthly workshops and hosts monthly readings, he continues to help spearhead its monthly readings, which are now done in tandem with US 1 Worksheets at the Princeton Public Library.

    His poetry has been widely published, including in Brooklines, A Muddy River Anthology, A Different Latitude, Thatchwork, Annals of Internal Medicine, Edison Literary Review, Quick and Dirty Poets, Identity Theory, U.S.1 and U.S.1 Worksheets.

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