In the room scrubs come and go,
check vital signs, the glucose drip,
bring clear liquids for her to sip,
but tell us nothing we want to know.

Either side of the bed we stand,
spin bad news into bland,
walk off at times to hide
trembling lip, dampening eye,
and dread the “path” report
will ferry hope to Hell.

Mid-morning, mid-afternoon,
the scarecrow hanging on my arm
shuffles speechless round the ward
while I hum Va pensiero under my breath,
conjure the orchestra, hear
Nabucco’s Hebrew slaves implore
a God I’m certain is not there,
for strength to endure.