by Sylvia S. Thompson


My oncologist’s mind
has a hard time flowing
around the sharp-edged boulders
of statistical probability
down into the tranquil brook
of against all odds.

Too many time he’s seen
the storm clouds
of diagnosis, of staging,
throw their gray and heavy drops
onto the garden of illness.
Battering hope’s delicate butting
into soil too alkaline
with statistical outcome.

I want to ask him when
he decided to no longer be
the gardener, becoming instead
the weed-man,
tending to my garden, the gardens
of others, once the pink petals
are wilted,
the saplings choked?

It must be sad for him, this endless
quest to find the right pesticides,
poisons for the burgeoning,
unwelcome varieties of growth.
Especially in stage three gardens
like mine, and up to four.
After that, all seasons end;
there is no stage five.

I want to ease his pain
almost more than my own,
leading him out from behind
the fence of emotional protection
and tell him to remember.

Witnessing in seasons not long past,
weeds withering, some vanish
on their own, and gardens flourish
into ripe, full harvests
when even the most optimistic
gardener had forecasted


I prayed to the Heavens
for a great teacher
dignifying, enlightening and steady.
With desperate pleas,
in silent conveyance,
that I, the student, was ready.

And so the Heavens,
obliged to my need,
sent a great teacher
to answer.

When I asked him his name,
he smiled at me warmly,
bowed down to me
and said,


Sylvia S. Thompson - small

Diagnosed with colon cancer on her birthday in 2005, Sylvia S. Thompson discovered the healing power of creative writing through her illness. She taught meditation, Reiki, Chakra and Color Therapy, and took part in a women’s Kabbalah study group in her community. Sylvia died on March 21, 2008.

These poems are from her book, In the Garden of Illness: I Sit by the Well of Hope, available from Amazon (please use our affiliate link, below).