The patient

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.