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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 [1], JAMA [2], Bellevue Literary Review [3] and the Cancer Poetry Project (second edition), and an upcoming book of her poetry will be published this fall by Press 53 [4] (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