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The Art of Palliative Medicine - 2016 Semester 1

Reason for my choice of media: I chose to write a poem because I am less critical of my own writing than I am of my own drawings or other forms of creative expression and with the time frame I felt I could finish a poem I had begun rather than discard a piece of artwork I had begun and have to start anew. I also find it an easy way to get feelings across as I found it can be a very free-flowing medium you can work on in bursts of inspiration, rather than having to get into a specific mood which can take a while. I like how you can fit a lot of feelings or ideas in a non-narrative way.

I wrote the poem from different perspectives. I used this device to illustrate the conversational nature of the visit and how talking about end of life is something personal and private and sometimes you just keep things to yourself which may have been the case. You can’t ever be sure of what a home is like on the inside, it may appear a little dark and gloomy but there can be great light and love nesting within, as there was with this family.

PDF version of "His Name is Earnest"

I arrived on a train
White day darkened doorway white apartment window
The armchair is firm where the sofa is soft
Yesterday’s babies sing in an arena of photographs
Her eyes sparkle with a quiet grace, telling stories she will not say
Her speech is her son:
His name is Earnest.

I fight for your gentle fight
You kept me safe and warm and wanted and now I harbour my canoe in a patient bay.
She gave me a life of devotion
I give her my love, emotion, the sweat flowing from my heart, a retrospective replenishment
Her breast, tissue of irony
Once nurturing, now flowering disobedient seeds
We don’t wait we don’t wait we won’t wait
We sit in the living room and that is what we do.

Your hair is nearing a full white
A spirit is not a fire
I stir the spoon in your vitamin drink, I do not fracture the glass.

How do you fit
A soul where they know they don’t belong
How to fit
Eighty years of laughter dancing leaping life into an ensuite unit, sensibly carpeted

That is not the life for her
Strong son
The sun moves along the carpet, the plastic yellow truck brightening

Life is energy
The sigh of the older lady becoming the cry of the baby
They are of the earth but they don’t chase time here
A pause
Maybe tomorrow?
When, how, what if
Why not focus on another day of birth, a beginning again
They are at peace
As far as we know
She can walk away but she stays stood,
Ready to go
Accepts a cup of tea with her husband and a hug from her grandchild
Day glow on her face
Home and never alone
This is theirs.