Please flood her nerves with sedatives
and keep her strong enough to crack a smile
so disbelieving friends and relatives
can temporarily sustain denial.
Please smite that intern in oncology
who craves approval from department heads.
Please ease her urge to vomit; let there be
kind but flirtatious men in nearby beds.
Given her hair, consider amnesty
for sins of vanity; make mirrors vanish.
Surround her with forgiving family
and nurses not too numb to cry. Please banish
trite consolations; take her in one swift
and gentle motion as your final gift.
A.M. Juster writes: “One of my favorites.”
A.M. Juster is the Plough Quarterly poetry editor. His work has appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, Hudson Review and other journals. His tenth book is Wonder and Wrath (Paul Dry Books 2020) and his translation of Petrarch’s Canzoniere is due from W.W. Norton in early 2024.