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Terrible Word

Patricia Wellingham-Jones
From: Don't Turn Away: poems about breast cancer. PWJ Publishing, 2000.

The senior nurse stood, solid,
at the foot of my bed.
White hair kinked over white uniform,
ultra bright teeth bared
in a ferocious smile.
She agreed the words were awful,
said in her southern mountain voice,
We've got to meet 'em
and greet 'em;
got to face the facts, girl.
She tweaked my toe
with a hand gentle from too many deaths,
pretended not to see
my watery eyes
and silently left.