Dr Death’s Waiting Room
He wears a mask of cadaverous concern
And his surgical coat hangs like a shroud
From his bony shoulders. His ward round
Is eternal and universal: bad news travels
Faster than the Four Horsemen of the
Apocalypse: he’s already waiting by your
Bed to tell you your end is nigh. He wields
His headstone clipboard ready to lay you
Out with its chiselled prognosis. His bony
Fingers pass you the tissue box and the
Disclaimer form to sign your life away.
His eye-sockets hold your gaze with
Professional concern, but they are as
Empty as a freshly-dug pit: he’s hungry
To fill it as you fight for survival. He surveys
Your internal struggle with the gravity of a
Blank-faced pallbearer as he shovels on clods
Of finality and screws down the lid of hope.
He takes pride in his professional ethos, to
Pursue patient care from the cradle to grave.
Unlike us, he does not suffer from the human
Condition and the fatal moment of our
Diagnosis when his office walls close in.
No platitudes help: no accompanying friend
Or second opinion will soften this
Sledgehammer blow. Perhaps, and only
Perhaps, other walking-wounded can share
Some of its crushing weight on their bowed
Shoulders. They, too, are weary travellers
Who have faced this moment of life’s
Inevitable journey and march on; each
Step taken along its endless travelator
Is another defiant day lived, before the
Exit signs to the valley of shadow. No
Time to look back, but we who are about
To die salute you, Dr Death: with two fingers.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Kate Meyer would be
pleased to hear them.