The patient

by Elouise

The patient lies dying
Body wasting
Skin pale and taut
lethargic eyes stare
from hollowed out sockets
Faded remnants of life born in hope
disappear in deep shadows

A priest garbed in vestments
stands before a makeshift altar
Demeanor and voice concentrated
on the proper order of things
His hands grasp the sacrament of life
hanging heavy in this cramped space

A young altar boy looks on
Head and eyes slightly averted
Hands clasped close to his chest
Sad eyes try not to stare

Filtered through a small window
dying light descends into the room
touching the patient’s Madonna-like robe
with a gleaming halo of grace
This is somebody’s beloved child
Fragile and sick unto death
Beyond hope of survival
Now the center of attention
Seated in a chair of royal honor

Tender looks and hand of a caregiver
Rest lightly on the young child
A man sits in shadows
Body bent in despair
Head slumping on his hand
A small dog sits on his lap
Looking on with downcast eyes
The priest’s voice continues

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 August 2017
Painting found at Wickipedia
1888 Painting by Venezuelan artist, Cristóbal Rojas (1857-1890)
Rojas died of tuberculosis about 5 weeks before his 33rd birthday.