Not A Lament  (When I Am Sick)   by   Jacinta Camacho

Not A Lament (When I Am Sick) by Jacinta Camacho

Don’t tell me to be brave,
I’ll get through it,
It’s God’s will,
I’ll see my loved ones soon.
Don’t say the worst will soon be over.
Don’t tell me it’s the air,
my genetics, those parents, chemicals.
An accident, a bombing, a slipped scalpel.

When you think I can’t hear,
don’t “if you’d only”.
If I’d only eaten better.
Exercised more.
Gone to some church,
synagogue or mosque.
If I’d only tried aromatherapy.
Vacationed in the Azores.
Stayed away from smokers.

Don’t mention my “fight” or “battle”.

Don’t say, “be hopeful”.
No “I will pray for you.”
Pray for yourself.
It takes no courage to get sick.
Choice is removed.
Viruses, bacteria, cancers,
poisons, plaque, time.
All bad breaks.
There is no clear choice.

Except to deal with what is.
You have choice.
To be here or not.
To be frank, honest with me.
At last. Be angry, sad, silly.
Tell me bad jokes and funny stories.
About life and death.
Write me a letter with pen and paper.
Draw me a picture of ducks
or chickens crossing the street.

For me, order Chinese food.
Have it delivered.
Disregard all the nurses’ admonitions
for no cholesterol, no salt
no smoking, no dancing.
Schedule a party in the room.
With cake and ice cream. And strong coffee.
Play your guitar or flute.
Bring in a band, a marching band.
On stilts. To lift your spirits.
Sing me songs you know I love.

Pretend you’re Perry Como.
Or Belafante. Or Odetta.
Or just be. There.
Don’t tell me you lit some candle.
For me.
Light one for yourself.
I’ll be gone. In some university morgue.
For the sake of science. A mere memory.
You’ll stay here.
Your sense of here.

When I am very sick.
You can clean my glasses.
Wipe my brow.
Hold the phone to my ear.
I shall say hello and goodbye
Again and again.
Thank you.
Love you.

Maybe massage my old, tired limbs.
Bring chocolate no matter what.
Nurses love chocolate.
Magazines with pictures are nice.
Read poetry to me until I fall asleep.
Don’t ask a lot of questions.
There are no answers from me.
For me.
You will find no easy answers
are worthwhile.
I leave prophecy to high priests.
You can each have a poem of mine
if you pay the contest fee for submission.

If this is your first turn with illness,
it won’t be your last.
Like birth.
In illness. And at death too.
Whether we like liver and onions
or al dente linguine with clams.
It is what it is.
Perhaps, whisper.
Let go, let go. Now.

I am going. My turn, at going.
You, are staying.
Have courage.
You are staying.


(c) Jacinta Camacho, 6.11.14