No Prospect

His uneasy truce with cancer
was shattered by
the seizure,

awakening confused
in a side-railed bed.
He lies quiet, astonished

by the speed of change,
still hearing echoes of
his home.

I sit silently by his side
as he reads the ceiling tiles,
the monitors,

the endless loop of passing
nurses, tries to do the math.
He knows the seizure

is the fulcrum,
but must it also be
the tipping point?

Like an ice-bound schooner
the pressure of the facts grinds
against his bony skull,

every tempting open lead
a lie. He had been a sailor,
knew the doldrums

of the Sargasso Sea,
suspended in baking heat,
prospecting for a cloud,

harbinger of wind’s release,
bobbing between hope
and resignation,

each tide slipping backwards
and knowing that, he knew
there was no good face here.

About the poet:

Richard Weiss is an internist and gastroenterologist, and a member of the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center and the Cleaveland House Poets of Martha’s Vineyard. His poetry has appeared in Pulse, in The Westchester Review  and in the anthology Let the Poets Speak. He lives with his wife Maggie in Armonk, NY.

About the poem:

“The poem was inspired by the long struggle that my close friend, also a physician, had in accepting a terminal illness. His courage in facing its reality, knowing quite well its hopelessness yet living each day with humor and wisdom, inspired me to write several poems, this being one of them. Another was read at his funeral service.”

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer

About the Poem


4 thoughts on “No Prospect”

  1. What a beautiful, beautiful poem. Dr. Weiss, the love you had for your friend just shines through. May more and more physicians come to share your humanity, an eye to see and an ear to hear.

    Thank you.

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