Category: Medical Poetry

caregiver heart poem

A Caregiver’s Heart.

I cared for you even before we met.

As letters meandering the page
sketched the contours of a portrait,
I looked forward to meeting you.

As I enter the room,
I sense a fragrance of time past,
of struggles endured years before–
silent whispers of a mind’s unrest
reflected through misted eyes.

As we talk,
of a soul’s facade you steadily disrobe.
Words of suffering and pain, joy and pride-
each syllable a silvered twine
weaving your life’s story.

I examine you.
Your heart-
that fulcrum deeply hinged.
A bittersweet thrum
of a battery strong but worn.
Your lungs-
that which sing
their own melodious song,
a lulling carol
invigorated with each exhale.

From there a journey it becomes
to strengthen you, to make you whole.
A disease conquered, a valley bridged.
A hollow filled, a life restored.

We work together.
As ripples in a wake,
your life affects mine,
for the same heart that aches
when you suffer
rejoices with you
in your victories.

Because this is what I treasure–
the chance to care for you,
to walk with you.

It is a privilege.

So thank you for letting me.

Continue reading “A Caregiver’s Heart.”

als waning poem phoebe chi

The Waning (ALS)

You already knew.
Gaze unflinching, 

you told us to say the words.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

A. L. S.

Despite sparse questions,
your eyes revealed
an understanding far deeper
than our answers-

that with one moment,
robbed were you

of the years ahead,
of memories awaiting,
of stories belonging to you.
Now lost.

Strength dissolving,
your conviction remains
unscathed.

You savor
each passing sunrise.

Each caress, each step.
For you know.
As your legs cease to support,
arms stop to comply,
you still feel
your child’s touch.

Absorbing her love.
Pretending
you don’t care the roles
have been reversed

as you yearn
to return her embrace.

As its hunger ascends,
You treasure
the remaining days.

Every word, every smile.
For you know.
Soon it
consumes your voice,

drains your visage,
until all that is left is
the silence
of a vacant mask.

Unable to reflect
your thought’s grin,

your heart’s laugh,
your soul tears
as you blink away the moisture.

As your breaths
increasingly betray you,

you are not defeated,
for the flames
of your bruised spirit
are not quenched,

and you give thanks
for the time you had,

even as your body dims
and you fade away.

Continue reading “The Waning (ALS)”

A Search Within.

How do I know
the pill won’t seem
bitter to your tongue
through your teeth?

How do I wear
a once white coat
stained with tears
of memories?

How do I compel
my pen to write
scripts to fight
a dimming light?

How do I know
 which waters will flow
to unearth the strength
within me?

How do I persuade
a heart to let go
when it’s my hand
that sets you free?

How do I ensure
my smile won’t be
one of the last
that you’ll see?

How do I force
my ears to hear
a song I fear
of dusk so near?

How do I know
which waters will come
to enshroud the doubts
within me?


The Hug.

Bitterness.
Each word, a slap.
Each consonant, piercing.
Bursting in like a winter’s storm,
you permeated into our lives.

We wanted to help you,
but we only came to fear you.
Many shook their heads in pity.
Some avoided you.
Others talked about you.

Contempt.
Each gesture, scornful.
Each insult, stinging.
My attempts to talk to you
only seemed to anger you more.

You terrified me. Yet I yearned.
To see. To know. To understand.

I knew you were frustrated.
Your disease, unforgiving.
Slowly devouring. 
I knew you were discouraged.
Your body, powerless.
Slowly succumbing.

But why wouldn’t you let us care for you?

Desperation.
Each day, the same.
Each encounter, fruitless.
You turned us away again and again. 
Until one day I confronted you. 
I asked you why.
And you told me.

I know you don’t really care. This is only your job. 

My job.

It all made sense.
The bitterness. The coldness. The distancing.
I understood.

Stepping forward,
leaving behind the pride, the decorum, 

my arms enclosed around you.
The fear escaping my racing heart
only after you made a move to wipe your eyes.

You then collapsed into me.
My shoulder, an insulation
to the sound of choked sobs.

You never said a word.
But in your cry I heard your anguish.
I heard desolation.
I heard relief.

Things were never the same after that.

Your bitterness was gone.
Your words, softer.
Your eyes, warmer.
You allowed us to care for you, 
remaining strong even
as your disease progressed.

Until one day, like winter’s snow, 
the seasons beckoned for you to leave.
But even then, as you faded away,
you reminded me of the day everything changed–

The day I gave you the hug. 

What the Stethoscope Hears.

What do I hear when I bring you to my ears?

What story does your body unveil?

I hear your heart,
the clap of each valve,
sloshes of vigor from lumen

to chamber to reveal
resilience and strength.

I hear your lungs,
the whisper of bronchi,
each crackle, each wheeze
unearthed with your breaths
to expose a hundred secrets.

I hear your bowels,
the timbre of that song,
divulging their activity
to massage a burden

through labyrinthine depths.

I hear your thyroid,
the swoosh of velocity,
fluid chased through vessels
to evoke visions of an
overzealous organ.

I hear your liver,
a resounding echo
against my fingers,

betraying your history
by disclosure of its girth.

So what do I hear when I bring you to my ears?

I hear the story that is your life.

To Let the Heart Speak.

Dear Diary,

What do I write about when I have nothing to write about?

When my lips have nothing to say?

Do I paint for you portraits
of hollow chimes adrift
in dew whose songs
mesmerize with
each sway of
the wind’s
caress?

Do I liken you to a single rose
who has but endured a
winter’s wrath to
weave a quilt
of fragrant
hues?

Or do I reflect upon my life as it is,
to tell you how much I treasure
the privilege of being able to
help you, to care for
you, whenever
you are
ill?

Do I try to express how tremendous my
heart feels when I tell you that it is
going to be alright, or when we

know that it may not, that
we will 
conquer it

together?

Do I admit to you that whenever you
smile, my day is brightened,
my heart is warmed,
and that when you
weep, my soul
tears with
you?

And do I tell you how much I appreciate you-
your presence, your courage- as you
battle through your illnesses,
uncertainties, and fears-
while reminding you
that you are an
inspiration
to me?

So what do I do when my lips can find no words?

I suppose I let the heart speak.