(04 October 1943 / Germany)

Six Months To Live

The doctor wore his undertaker mask this morning.
Miss Jones was in to get the full report.
All tests completed and the biopsy is back.
The room is pregnant now with dark-skinned twins,
one half is expectation, the other odds-defying hope.

'Some tea, Miss Jones? ' This gesture breaks no ice.
'And cream or sugar? 'Dammit, is it bad?
You beat around the bush if you're afraid
that bogeymen or cancers hide within.

'I'm giving you six months', he says at last,
'perhaps a fraction more,
I am not God! ' But with a voice
that God himself would use.
He hands her paper after paper after paper.

'These are referrals, Alice, the one
for Dr. Fleece, he'll do the radiation,
thirty-two in all.
Then, after that, the fellows at St. Claire's
will cut the rotten parts
and stitch the mesh in tight.
The Chemo, you are lucky, I will say,
is done by Dr. Toxus, she will kill
whatever moves and doesn't look too friendly.
And Dr. Slurpey uses high-osmotic suction
to drain the fluid from your lungs
on Tuesday mornings.
Right after that - convenience is the word:
The pneumo's will inser the special nozzle
right in your anal sphincter, grip it tight!
To pump the hot air into you
of all these therapeutics.
And you will float like pieces of cacatum,
and thank your God you live in modern times.

The miracle, Miss....ahem,
whatever,
names don't matter,
of Modern Medicine
has reached you.
It follows you
through life
to watch you die.
If there is even more that we can do,
just don't be shy,
that's why we're here.

So, all in all, if it's okay
I'll leave you to it now
and make my rounds.
If you have questions
or donations
for the clinic,
remember,
time is of the essence!
Use it wisely.

And pale Miss Jones then timidly begins:
'So if I'll die so soon,
why go through the bother?
Will I go sooner
if I just go home and cry? '

The doctor pauses briefly
in the doorway, and scolds her,
with what he considers
plain compassion:
'It is expected,
what would people say? '

by Herbert Nehrlich

Comments (3)

It's a rare gift to be so insightful Anyone who reads this can't fail to be moved and to understand better the impact of such a diagnosis and the gratitude one is expected to feel when asked to hand over not only a body, but also a soul. C
The most painful part of the medical profession, I assume.... Well captured here...
Yes herbert the new's about dying how to take that new's, we all know it's going to happen, we just dont no when, and we prefer not to know very well done herbert Regard's allan