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In Hospice

by Jeanne Rogers

A family gathers
and each does what they do best.
He brings a damp cloth,
comfort for a feverish brow.
His soft caress stills a nervous hand,
his deep familiar voice
an anchor to life.
She knows the pills—
what, when, how much—
documents the ins and outs of medicinal support,
cleans the stoma, the bag,
the fluids and waste
of a dying woman.
Another is a young mother
and she gathers the children,
takes them home for a movie,
pizza, popcorn—
offering some "normal"
in a world gone deadly.
Someone else cooks and bakes,
proffers physical sustenance, emotional support,
spiritual prayers through the work
of her able hands—
rolls shaped, bread baked,
casseroles assembled,
salads tossed with love
and garnished with strength.

Jeanne's poetry has been published in Houghton Mifflin collections of women's writing, and her nonfiction book, Standing Witness: Devils Tower National Monument, A History, with the National Park Service is scheduled for release this winter.