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doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000290864.92639.5c

“Poetry is the spontaneous outpouring of powerful feelings…emotions recollected in tranquility.”


The world of poetry often serves as a means of expression and source of comfort for those who care for cancer patients. In this periodic column, we are pleased to present poems written by oncologists, oncology nurses, oncology pharmacists, and other cancer caregivers. We welcome submissions—Please e-mail them to





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When I die

wait for a windy day

and carry my ashes

to a rocky point

that juts into the sea.

Scatter those ashes slowly to mix

with the air, water, and earth,

to become one

with the fishes,

the shore birds and sand fleas,

and the yellow flowers

that cover the meadow

every spring.

Years from now

listen for my voice

in birdsong,

look for my face

among the leaves of the oak,

and know

that I move

in the depths of the ocean.

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Well Worn

Most of my things

do not acquire a patina

even though I like

faded jeans,

well worn leather,

and the muted green

of weathered copper.

Maybe I wash my hands

too often

and touch the world around me

too little.

I remember outgrowing

a cowboy outfit as a child.

It was as clean as new

when we gave it away.

Time is making me

less afraid

of scars and stains,

more appreciative

of the hard and soft

people and things

around me,

more willing

to risk everything

to be well worn

and pleasantly used

before I outgrow this life.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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