Palliative Care

Stacy Nigliazzo

When I cut the stem
I knew it was just a matter of time.

I cleared the sill
and filled a crystal vase.

The petals unfurled.
The smell of summer pierced my skin

for three days.
When the first leaf fell

I added lemon pulp and crushed
an aspirin;

cut away all that waned–
the shoots were spry

one last day.
I scattered them over green earth.

Flecks of pollen
stained my lips and cheekbones.

About the poet:

Stacy Nigliazzo is an ER nurse. Her poems have appeared in Pulse, JAMA, Bellevue Literary Review and the Cancer Poetry Project (second edition), and an upcoming book of her poetry will be published this fall by Press 53 (North Carolina). She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and a recipient of the Elsevier Award for Nursing Excellence.

About the poem:

“I was arranging a vase of Stargazer lilies when it occurred to me that they began the process of dying as soon as they were cut. I worked diligently to keep them alive and was reminded of how challenging it can be to care for a dying patient. This poem is a celebration of that role.”

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer

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