The slenderness of the young woman
Belies the courage she possesses,
As she runs into the middle of the intersection,
Scoops up the stunned little ginger body.
Cradles it against her designer shirt.
She blinks long, mascaraed eyelashes,
And passes me the burden of a race to the vet.
Nestled in the black blanket, warm little body,
Broken, its blue eyes staring,
Its mouth open in a final mew.
He’s still warm, the vet says,
Describes catastrophic injuries,
Adds in her no-nonsense, offhand way, You did all you could do.
The nurse who checks the chemo bag
Wears no makeup; chats to us all.
Fiercely clean, efficient and kind,
A lifeboat of blue-gowned proportions,
She sails amongst us maroons in this toxic sea.
I wonder if she would have the courage to
Scoop me up off the floor, to lay me against her cotton chest.
If she would turn calmly to the shocked young doctor,
And say gently, over my still warm body, We did all we could do.
Heather Cameron is a poet and creative nonfiction writer. Her publications include the creative non-fiction, "Different but the Same; Young people talk about living with serious illness" Lothian Books, Melbourne, 1998, and more recently poems she has written from her experience as a cancer survivor and health professional in cancer and palliative care, as part of her creative writing PhD exploring autopathography and elegy in cancer poetry, at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia.