Off the Shelf
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a nightingale knows best.
her call comes forth
as the daylight dwindles,
and, listen… i hear her now.
i follow her tune
guiding me to you.
she chirps warmly for you.
you are her favorite, she twitters,
just, lately, a little more quiet.

the rests in her score
carry a purposeful fermata.
the unsung is more telling
than her notes themselves.

as i gaze upon you,
you look straight through me.
gloves and gown further separate
our connection.

i see an experienced face
sunken in from your fight.
your prominent cheekbones
underline heavy yellowed eyes
which never seem to blink.
how i ask and beg you
to close them amid your gasps.
neither i nor the nightingale can quell.
only time, that precious constant,
will resolve them.

still i talk to you
although uncertain what to say.
knowing you could not turn your head,
through held-back tears
i describe the sunset.
the vivid pink and flaming orange
against a baby blue sky speckled with clouds
as the sun descends.

the beauty of nature’s colorful masterpiece
is reflected in your presence — an ember’s glow
which now fades into silence.

i hope you leave knowing you were loved
by the world around you
and that your sunset illuminates
my horizon.

Herbert Rosenbaum Herbert Rosenbaum (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix Family Medicine Residency Program

Herbert B. Rosenbaum, M.D., is a proud native of San Antonio, Texas, an alumnus of The George Washington University, graduate of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and resident physician at University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix Family Medicine Residency Program. His medical interests include family medicine, primary care, geriatric medicine, medical politics, and end-of-life management. Dr. Rosenbaum urges his physician and medical student readers to start meaningfully addressing the elephant in the room (and perhaps American medical culture's biggest failure): death and dying - a common subject of many of his creative works and critical essays.