Beautiful in her dying,
She blesses us with her presence.
There are good days and bad days, she says,
As if a day wrenched out of focus
By the bone-deep pain of cancer
Were the most ordinary thing in the world.
Now that the chemotherapy is over, her hair grows again,
Curlier than before, and she colors it
To please herself and celebrate that which remains.
She uses oxygen now, and morphine,
But her voice is strong,
And her smile is the same, but richer.
It’s as if she has found some deep well of peace,
Drunk of it until she is so filled she overflows,
Gracing the rest of us with the excess.
I think of the runner who has just won
The gold medal, waiting for the ceremony
That will put it around her neck, in her hand –
Or St. Joan, calling on God and her saints
In a voice of great joy while the fire burns up around her.
There is light that shines out of her dying
Like the joy on the face of the traveler
Going home after long absence.
She is a lesson to us all,