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The Art of Palliative Medicine - 2017 Semester 2

I chose poetry as my medium because I felt it would best capture the emotive nature of seeing my palliative patient. Poetry has always evoked a visceral response in me, and although I read many, actually writing something has always seemed beyond my capabilities. When I saw my patient, however, the fortitude of spirit and character they exuded made me feel obliged to challenge myself.

I wanted to explore the ideas of the inherent value of human life, and how as we grow older society dictates that value must be qualified. A baby is the most precious form of life, it is celebrated and revered simply because of what it represents – a new human being. However, as we age that value often becomes externalized to our achievements or the wealth we have acquired. This to me epitomizes a fatal flaw of human society. We lose that sense of worth, that mana, when our humanness becomes older or we are unable to contribute as much to society as others, which manifests heavily in the dying. This is a group of people, by design, unable to perform like others, but we are socialized to see them as being disposable, and that makes me ache. I chose the image of the mother and child to convey the ubiquity of our worth, and the religious imagery to remind us that we are as worthy as the divine to be upon this earth.

PDF version of "Remember"

Screaming with life
The world heard God.
In blood and tears,
She smiled and said
“Exalted ones, you are wholly dear”.

Upon her chest she laid them,
Immaculate with life,
She saw their face in
Times to come and
Sought to spite their strife.

She poured herself unchecked,
All she had to give,
It was the only way to promise them
They need not give reason
To live.

But though she tried
Time’s course defied,
And cursed her promise lost:
The clouded mind isn’t fit
To see the hand
That guides the way.

The children grew in life
And ate of its rotted fruit;
It stripped them of
Her sentiment
And left but a heart of dirt.

Hollow forms walked on,
Yet behind them she walked too;
The Mother’s heart could never ebb
And her words she cried anew

“Exalted ones, you are wholly dear,
But life will teach you else,
Remember my voice,
Remember my face,
Your worth is within yourself”

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