Last week on the hospice ward

Hear tell of mathematical models to predict animal behavior:
sanguine slaughters cyclic like simple harmonic motion;
altruistic self-sacrifices when b exceeds c;
lichen, june bugs, nematodes, vertebrates,
all ink variables confined
to white pages.

Well come sit a spell at my linoleum shrine,
because as Father Carmelus the Franciscan monk died
of cardiomegaly,
I wet with a towel rag his naked body
spotted by fecund fungi, Ascomycota swollen
with salty perspiration and flesh fragments.

But Father never asked for morphine drips or liquid fungicides,
not but a cup of ice water,
an open window to see the trees.

Sun rays shone on his pale forehead
and he dissolved into speck particles,
floated free to blue skies.

Jillian Moore is a second year student at Harvard Medical School. During college she managed health clinics in a rural Mexican border town and volunteered with a non-profit hospice organization in Tucson, AZ. She is interested in medical anthropology and patient narratives.