the philosophy of gerunds (my mother is dying)

let this be the healing
& if not   let it be

“little prayer,” Danez Smith

my mother is dying

this is what the doctors have told us
first with qualifiers—“likely” and “probably”

later in hushed tones and ominous language
punctuated with “untreatable” and “stage 4”

if she were younger or healthier (they add)
maybe treatment could gain her another year or two

in hospitals we play these very human verbal games
ignoring the philosophy of gerunds in our living and dying

my mother has a timetable now but hers is no different
than the fact of being human that is living as dying

her cancer and two to six months come in the wake
of a stroke that doctors said could happen to anyone any time

my mother has been reduced to a macabre real-life allegory
about living and dying as two sides of the same human coin

the price we pay for living is the inevitable dying of course
and we have no way to know how much or how long

but we are living always aware of the dying on the other end
dancing and wrestling as we are with living in parentheses

my mother is dying

i sit beside her in my living as dying smiling
and offering soothing words against her incoherence
words any reasonable person would recognize as lying

—P.L. Thomas

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