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Medical Humanities

Your Scan Results

Penny Shutt

(Accompanying painting by Sohi Mistry)

I hesitate at the doorway to your side-room,             .
your scan report hangs
at my side, leaden
with fate's shame.
The cleaner bustles around your bed  
'Hope this weather keeps up for weekend' you say,                                      
nodding towards the sun streaming in
over your drab NHS sheets.                          
Shifting rays bounce
off the fluorescent green cover
of the bumper puzzle book                  
you've set aside to chat.
Were you always this friendly
before you were diagnosed?                        
Are word searches how you'd spend these last few days    
if you knew?                            
I lean in the doorway, don't close the door,    
pull up a chair,                          
or ask when your wife will next be in.            
Instead I ask about those new painkillers      
we started you on this morning          
which you're glad have finally kicked in.        
'The results of that scan aren't back yet'
my words
flimsy as the paper that I fold with unshaking hands
and retreat until Monday,
leave you basking in the evening glow.

Deputy Editor's Comments


The painting accompanying this poem was done by Sohi Mistry a member of the JGIM Web Editorial Team.