The Sorrow and the Shame

by P.C. Scheponik

He says he wants to go home to die.
He doesn’t want to spend the last moments
of his life in the home—take his leave from
this world in a rented bed, attended by those
paid to take care of the almost dead—
making the rounds of the bodies hanging on—
his candle melted down, his life still clinging
to the curled crescent of charred wick,
the tiny ember on the very tip like the spark
of God that no longer fits his failing body.
The cancer has conquered, and his body
has quit fighting. The systems are closing down
one after the other, and there’s no reigniting
the power to heal or the will to live.
There’s just his request, that they listen,
that they give him what he asks for—
to let him go home, to let him die
in the bed he calls his own.