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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

3 Poems in “Intima’s” Spring/Summer Issue

Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine includes 3 of my nursing poems in its Spring/Summer 2023 issue. Since it is an online journal, readers can enjoy these and the other heart-felt writing by going to www.theintima.org. To find my poems specifically, click on Current Issue, then scroll down to Poetry. The poems are in alphabetic order and are titled, “Daughter Gesture,” “Drive,” and “The Softest Cloth.”

“Daughter Gesture” is about my dear friend Sally caring for her mother. “Drive” is about a caregiver for one of my patients letting him drive one final time at age 99. “The Softest Cloth,” is a tribute to my friend Sherry, the nurse who trained my in Hospice work. She was one of the kindest people I have ever known. Here is her poem:

The Softest Cloth

The day I shadowed you, learning

Home Hospice nursing, you warned me,

on the drive to his cabin, about the patient

dying of throat cancer whose disease

progressed upwards, disfiguring

his speech and features.

His door was unlocked. You entered

like a friend. Laid out supplies

as if for a morning shave.

His eyes spoke what his lips could not.

He loved you for seeing more than a wound.

I waited at the corner of his vision,

handing you irrigation solution, powders

to erase odor, a roll of the softest

packing cloth. You chatted about weather,

praised the beauty of his woodland acre

then scaled pain no number could ever

describe, increasing dosages meant

for dreaming. As goodbye, you smoothed

sheets over bones, then gently touched

his forehead, your fingers tracing shadows

of all a face can mean.

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