A nauseating smell invoking glimpses of hell
Groping my way into the darkness of the hall.
Corridors lined with cotton wastes and grotesque faces
Keeping a smile pinned to lips that almost retch,
Avoiding the bleak eyes that follow my hesitant paces.
Looking blank and unseeing, yet they see through me.
Huddled on broken beds, poor souls awaiting wreaths.
As unwanted now as the infested, lumpy mattresses underneath.
Shabby towels hide monstrous lumps and fleas
Feeding on their cheeks and necks on open sores of chemotherapy.
They reply to my meaningless queries, their name, their place
though these no longer matter to them or me.
Ashamed of my forced smiles at fate’s cruel gales
The vision of a Nightingale-spreading sweetness and light
Extinguished in a tempest of bleak, hopeless human wails
I wonder why God chose them and left me free.
Overcome with guilt for complaining about life as a trainee.
Humbled by morbid human threats, subdued beyond intellect
Pulling me down to the depths of despair
Into their world of cancer, doom and neglect.
Heavy chains of depression drag me into the cancerous halls
Soon they become me and their wretchedness no longer galls.
Published in the anthology” A survivor’s guide to bedlam by Brian Wrixon