Hospiceby Robin Becker
softer than hospital but still not home—
like any other frame house on the street,
it had a lawn, a door, a bell—
inside, our friend lay, a view
of the garden from her room but no lift
to raise her from the bed. A sword,
the sun plunged across the cotton blankets.
I wanted dying to be Mediterranean,
curated, a villa, like the Greek sanatoria
where the ancients cared for their sick
on airy porticos and verandas
with stone paths that led to libraries.
A nurse entered her room and closed the door.
For the alleviation of pain, I praise
Morpheus, god of dreams, unlocking
the medicine drawer with a simple key,
narcotic placed beneath the tongue.
In the hall, the volunteer offered us coffee.
How could I think the Mozart in G major
we played to distract her could distract her?
Or marble sculpture in the atrium?
"Hospice" by Robin Becker from Tiger Heron.
What's the poem saying to you? The chastened mood, the language so supple and simple, the mood as quiet as death itself. For me, somehow, poetry gets to the truth of the human experience, and the bedrock truth of human experience is that we must deal with death. It surrounds us, haunts us, defines us.