Cure (Veneta Masson)



In Latin it means care,
conjures priests and temples
the laying on of hands
sacred pilgrimage
the sickbed
invalid and
solemn attendants.

How far we have come.
Today’s English
has neatly expunged
these purely human elements.
Cure is impersonal, consequential
unequivocal, sometimes violent–
the annihilation
of the thing that ails.

This nurse
approaching the patient
has discarded temple garb
for practical scrubs.
His gloved hands
unsheathe the magic bullet,
shoot it through the central line
where it locks onto the target cells.

For the not-yet-cured,
there is still sacred pilgrimage–
that dogged slog
to the high tech shrine,
the health food store,
the finish line of the annual race
where, etched on each undaunted face,
is a gritty tale of survival.


A line already written



Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

small, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

David Whyte – The Journey

It is not enough to know


It is not enough to know.
It is not enough to follow
the inward road conversing in secret.

It is not enough to see straight ahead,
to gaze at the unborn
thinking the silence belongs to you.

It is not enough to hear
even the tiniest edge of rain.

You must go to the place
where everything waits,
there, when you finally rest,
even one word will do,
one word or the palm of your hand
turning outward
in the gesture of gift.

And now we are truly afraid
to find the great silence
asking so little.

One word, one word only.

~david whyte

Only Human


The spirit
  likes to dress up like this:
   ten fingers,
   ten toes,
shoulders, and all the rest
  at night
   in the black branches,
     in the morning

in the blue branches
  of the world.
   It could float, of course,
     but would rather

plumb rough matter.
  Airy and shapeless thing,
   it needs
     the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
  the oceanic fluids;
   it needs the body’s world,
and imagination
  and the dark hug of time,
     and tangibility,

to be understood,
  to be more than pure light
   that burns
     where no one is —

so it enters us —
  in the morning
   shines from brute comfort
     like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
  lights up the deep and wondrous
   drownings of the body
     like a star.


Mary Oliver – the spirit likes to dress up


A provenance of…


Come down drenched, at the end of May,
with the cold rain so far into your bones
that nothing will warm you
except your own walking
and let the sun come out at the day’s end
by Slievenaglasha with the rainbows doubling
over Mulloch Mor and see your clothes
steaming in the bright air. Be a provenance
of something gathered, a summation of
previous intuitions, let your vulnerabilities
walking on the cracked sliding limestone
be this time, not a weakness, but a faculty
for understanding what’s about
to happen. Stand above the Seven Streams
letting the deep down curent surface
around you, then branch and branch
as they do, back into the mountain
and as if you were able for that flow,
say the few necessary words
and walk on, broader and cleansed
for having imagined.

The Seven Streams – David Whyte

Dream of a Dream (Ngoc Nguyen)


Dream of a dream
beyond all dreams,
beyond your wildest dreams
Dream of a dream
like you’ve never dreamed before,
dreams only you would dare to dream
and no one else

She knows you know. That is all



When the beeper went off you were dreaming about running away from your
kid’s ball game and your job and your home.

On your way you review all the steps of pronouncement – you look for the
hospice death packet and think about what you will do and say.

They meet you at the door, quietly leading you to the room.

Everyone is silent, the lights are dim, they are waiting, expectantly.

On the hospital bed lies a skeleton – a shell of a person – pasty in color,
motionless. There is no heartbeat, no peripheral pulse, no respiration,
the eyes are open and fixed.

You wonder who this person was, what she was like when she was young,
what kind of suffering she endured. You tell the family that the patient has died.

The young girl begins to cry, her brother holds her, their mother – the patient’s
daughter – sits stoically next to the bed, hands folded in her  lap.

You stop the CADD pump and gently remove the sub-q catheter. You turn off
the oxygen concentrator and remove the nasal cannula. You excuse yourself
to make the phone calls.

The family sits next to their now gone grandmother – touching her hands, crying,
reassuring each other that they have done the best for her.

The daughter, the spine (pillar?)of strength, is not crying but gently
talking to her children.

You notify the doctor – he is sad, says he’s known her for 30 years, probably will
go to the funeral. You notify the minister who says he’ll be right there.

The funeral director will arrive in 30 minutes. The daughter witnesses for you as
you pour morphine and Percocet tablets into the toilet and flush. Paperwork.

The daughter tells you her mother suffered from cancer for 20 years off and on
– but that the last 3 months were fast and painful until the hospice nurses got the
pain under control with the CADD pump.

You calculate what the cancer must have occluded, eroded, robbed, to cause
such pain. There is cachexia. There are pedal contractures.
The abdomen is grossly enlarged.

You tell the daughter the good things you see – how beautifully the skin has been kept,
not a hint of breakdown; how nice the hair looks, such an obvious sign of the love
and devotion her mother has received.

The two young children leave the room and you and the daughter bathe the mother
one last time, change the linens, and make her comfortable.

You talk to each other and to the body. The daughter begins to cry – you hold her,
like the child she is at this moment – the child who no longer has a mother.

The doorbell rings, the funeral director has arrived. You encourage the daughter and
her family to come into the dining room and have a cup of tea. You go back to the
bedroom to assist with the transfer of the body into the funeral bag.

Such finality when the zipper goes over the face – you want to keep the family
delicately away from the sight of this. It is painful enough for you.

The minister arrives. The family gathers in the living room. They thank you for
being there and for giving up your sleep in their hour of  need.

You pack the loose medical supplies, strip the bed, break it down, gather the
trash, turn out the bedroom light, and close the door. The equipment company
will come in the morning for the larger supplies. You say good-bye and leave.

Outside, alone in your car, you cry.

A few months later at a mutual friend’s wedding, you see the daughter.
When she sees you she smiles with sadness in her eyes.

You smile back. She knows. You know. She knows you know. That is all. That is enough. 

On Call (Anonymous)