J. M. Pressley
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Pappy was a vintage preacher, Baptist
Fundamental, pounding sermons more
Than preaching them. Now his words strike wet flint,
And the hoarse whisper of his former voice
Says no more chemotherapy, no more
Operations, radiations; he's made
His peace. Charts and blood tests confirm the worst,
With glaring red dots, fluorescent x-rays,
And morbid, laser-sculpted images.
The doctor nods assent; this won't be long,
Say a year, a year and a half, perhaps?
We all hear the cancer in his reply,
The palpable miasma in each breath.
Death comes in whispers, in murmurs, shudders,
Soft sighs and moans; my grandfather used to
Thunder. Yet thunder fades, and death descends
With not the grandeur of a peal, but with
The humble submission of a hushed voice.

© 2001 by J. M. Pressley

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