The Doc had passed by her room before,
careful to avoid her line of vision,
like a suspect steering clear of the police.
Though out of options for her care,
today, he wills himself to visit.
She beckons him to sit on her bed,
which creaks in protest.
Her fingers pick over and over
at the rumpled bedcovers.
A model patient, she had come to him
for years, a vegetarian, non-smoker,
totally fit. Now redundant skin
drapes her shrinking frame.
She meets his gaze and pleads,
"You must have something else."
Shaking his head, he explains,
"It would just make you suffer more."
She thrusts her head back on the pillow,
as if appealing for a solution in the ceiling tiles.
He leans in, "Can I call clergy for you?"
In almost a whisper she replies,
"I stopped believing long ago."
"A family member then?" he offers.
Looking out the window,
she says, "We have lost touch."
While he strokes her cold hand,
he averts his gaze. Rising to leave,
he places his hand on her shoulder
and offers, "The morphine will help,
please use it." After turning,
he glances back and feels his throat
tighten, choking off any parting words.
Then he is off, headed out the door
to the next name scribbled on his list.