Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hospice and Nursing Home Poem: "World Champion"

It occurred to me that I’ve never shared one of my hospice volunteer poems with you. A mute patient, whose legs were amputated due to severe diabetes, inspired me to write this poem. Although he endured several close calls with death, he repeatedly overcame them until he eventually died. Observers couldn’t understand why he didn't give up sooner. Because he had no legs and was such a determined survivor, I viewed him as an Olympic marathon runner.

World Champion

Your bedridden body
wins survival marathons,
breaks records in life's
Olympic Games.
I touch your skeletal chest,
feel spirit of an aging heart
that outruns the Grim Reaper
in back-to-back wins.

Some pity your amputated legs,
anguished moans, unexpected
comebacks when death
competes with bare existence.
No one claps or cheers
for your personal-best pace
toward the final race
when you clear each hurdle.

They don't understand
why you won't give up
when you defend each challenge
to clock more blocks of time.
Your laps for life press onward
as you struggle to the finish,
grin like a World Champion
each time you grab the gold.

© Frances Shani Parker

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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