At the School Canteen

“I’ve made up my mind.
You have to die one day.”
She smiles
With quivering lips.

I draw my purse. Picking a hundred:
“I know of a lady,” who had … cancer.”
Pointing to the showcase: “A pancake… and a tea.”
Casually: “You see, she never sought proper treatment
Trying all sorts of fancy medicine.” I take the pancake.
Routine exchanges make the negotiation smooth.
“She is doing fine now, you know,” I add,
“After the operation.”
I conclude, pocketing in the change.

Her eyes flicker. Momentarily.
Laughter of students makes her strain. Turning her head: “A tea!”
Blue veins on her neck stand in mock relief.
Students rush.
I take my chance, to move away.

One has to eat, even enjoy
One’s food, despite nature’s caprices.
I bite into the pancake.
From where I sit I can see
Her handing out short-eats
To hungry students.
Savouring the tea
I keep looking at her.

Her head is wrapped
With a shrewd scarf,
To hide the havoc
Of chemotherapy.
I want something to say.
I tilt the cup
For hollow sugariness.

It was barely a month ago
Her black shock of hair,
Now given way to the raven scarf,
Challenged her soft skin,
Which is a shade darker now.

The glow of death
Has eased the contrast.
I want something to say.
But I stand, thankfully, for the bell tolls.

Another end of endless intermissions.
I must have something to say to her tomorrow,
When I come to the canteen.
Perhaps, I’ll just stick to business.

Poem Rating:
Click To Rate This Poem!

Continue Rating Poems

Share This Poem

This Poems Story

This poem is about the helplessness of both a cancer victim and the poet who are unable to negotiate reality.