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by Fances Shani Parker

His weary, tucked-in body
lies in a nursing home bed.
A black Gandhi, he yearns for peace.
His days are chains of mountains
formed by pressures of frustration.
I approach him like a helpless child,
wonder how to lift his spirits.
Eyes that have seen ninety years
squint tightly as daggers of pain
pierce his cancerous form.
Intermittent moans of distress
announce his internal battlefield.
A volunteer, I visit him weekly,
try to arm him with weapons
to increase his victories.
Talk, sing or hold his hand?
Never sure, I try them all.
Words inside he wants to say
are muttered sounds
I seldom understand.
His smile engulfs the room
when I speak of old Detroit.
Perhaps images from the past
recapture stolen pieces
of pleasure from his youth.
I tell him I must leave,
promise to return. Surprising me
in his clearest voice,
he struggles to respond,
"I appreciate your coming."

Frances Shani Parker, is a writer, consultant, hospice volunteer, and former school principal. Her award-winning writing has been published in several books and journals. In 2007, "Victory" was published in the author's book, Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes." Visit her in cyberspace at Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog and her website at www.francesshaniparker.com.