Pronouncing a Patient Dead

Pronouncing a patient dead
in their own bed,
surrounded by the things they loved,
on the walls,
on the shelves.

The things you never really knew about them
the things they loved.
Never told in the fifteen minutes they spent with you
every few weeks
over how many years.
Not filled out on the “intake form,”
not asked by the receptionist,
not asked by the nurse
and not asked by you
A lot less important, I guess,
than the insurance number.

Were these the things he once lived for?
The things he woke up for in the morning?
The things he dreamt of as he fell asleep?
The things he shared with friends-
his close friends.

Were these really less important than his insurance number?
Though he entrusted to you his life,
you did not know his life.

But now you do.
Every interest,
every hobby.
Even a faded, small picture on the wall
tells more than you ever knew
about family
about friends.
Were these really less important
than his list of current drugs?

Retired family physician. Graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine, Family Medicine Residency program University of Louisville. Practiced in Utah 1981- 2016.

Rubor Participation:
2021 Poem, "Pronouncing a Patient Dead"