Bedside Manner, by Joan Cannon

Bedside Manner
by Joan Cannon

Is it patience that makes your voice
so cooing and soft, gestures slow
and soothing as the brow-stroke
of a mother whose child is sick?
Or are you rigid beneath
that top-coat of pliancy and calm?

We who hover hoping to help
perhaps have no right to muse
on what we see as we step with care
lest some alien tap upon the floor
might shake fragile equilibrium,
as a lightning flash against the dusk—

Do you know how your stature
intimidates? Because you now have
come where we may one day stand,
the pattern may be before us, in you.
To profit we need to understand
and not be misled.
Will you look into our eyes?

Author’s Comment: As I observe more people requiring various kinds of support and care at life’s decline, it occurred to me that those who render that care seem to possess special knowledge. The watchers might wish to have the benefit of what those attendants might be able to tell them, but they dread what they might learn.

Bio: Joan Cannon is a retired high school teacher (of English and theatre arts), editor, author of two novels, addicted reader. She has published poems in The Odessa Poetry Review and Lowestoft Chronicle (current issue). Her short stories have appeared in various magazines, and she writes reviews and essays for .

4 thoughts on “Bedside Manner, by Joan Cannon

  1. Joan, In a workshop Richard Hugo said some of the best poems are spoken to someone in particular. After reading this poem, I now fully understand why he said that and how true it is. Thanks for this poem.

    • I can’t thank you enough for this comment, especially from someone whose work I admire. I’m slow in replying because I hadn’t thought of checking back to look for comments. Now I’m glad it occurred to at last.

    • I’m humbled by your comment, and elated at the same time to see that you “got it.” I have Scott to thank for the title and a tweak. I never assumed poetry could be edited, and I’m so glad to find it can.

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