Fly High

(With sincere dedication to Miss Cloey Shelor, 03/22/01 - 02/08/15)




The cold,

plastic-coated vinyl

of the Emergency Room waiting chair

sticks to my pale, thin thighs –

a sign they’ve postponed saving my life

in place of another –

a few too many times.

Each second,

time ticks marginally slower –

the clock drones endlessly,

mocking me:

another moment


with each tock.

These missed chances haunt me,

but hospital staff don’t generally consider my time limitations.

I’m limited.

I’m a grenade,

just waiting

to rip the hearts out

of everyone around me.

And I’m slipping, now,

off the edge,

a cliff,

an icy cliff,

I can’t breathe,







Another hospital bed,

another pale, thin curtain

separates me from the other kids

who are dying.

Some of them don’t even know it.

Lungs are tricky.

They expand and contract,

like your heart,

only slower.

Well, they try.

Mine drown me:

I feel myself choking

on my own body.

I’m swimming in a pool

that’s attacking me.



The walls begin to close in,

the water rises –

my breaths quicken and shallow,

I find myself gasping for air that can’t

– won’t find me.

The foundations encircling me close in

engulfing my body’s focus


until my vision ceases

and my breathing halts,

then I awake in a hospital bed next to my mother.

This is familiar to me,

my mother’s sense of presence.

She radiates hope,

a bright smile shines

through glossy tears

that never seem to leave her drowsy eyes.

It’s a beautiful exhaustion

though –

somehow still,

her wrinkled pink shirt is

the only thing I want to see,

and her angelic voice

softly in my ear

keeps me calm.

I am grateful,

though I hardly get the chance

to show it.




Clocks tick around me


This is a different kind of timekeeper,


it doesn’t mock nor does it taunt –

it simply does its job.

In some classes,

I hope it slows, even.

Songs of my peers surround me,

yet I find myself daydreaming, considering:

What if they don’t find a lung for me?

They won’t let me be an organ donor;

I’m not old enough.

But I want to be.2

I told my mom I wanted to volunteer myself

for others like they have for me –

like my favorite, Katniss.

I want to help those whose time is less limited than mine.

The bell won’t ring fast enough,

it never does.

But that’s the thing about time –

it varies none, regardless of situation.

Perhaps beautiful in this sense,

but it doesn’t care what you think.

It simply is.



Ambulance sirens are piercingly loud.

The back of my eyelids show me colors,

a kaleidoscope of abstract images

entangle themselves before me.

Focusing on them,

I am lifted.

I feel oxygen enter my body

for the final time.

It wasn’t even a good breath,

it was shallow,

I want another shot at it.

I didn’t even get to say goodbye.


I sat.

I waited.

It was too late.

People have sent colorful cards

and come to visit,

to say goodbye.

I can’t even blink in response.

I lie still,

absorbing it all.

Two weeks ago

everything was fine,

yet since then I’ve been stuck

in an endless sleep

with no goodbyes,

no final wishes.

They will not try to wake me.


I wish I could tell them

not to cry;

With no restrictions,

I’m open

to soar

and be free –

the wind blowing my hair,

the space in my lungs

to sing

with strength

I’ve never before felt.

I suppose those who are dying

feel that they should limit themselves –

to avoid hurting others.

I don’t know that I agree.

Our time on Earth is limited,

but we make the most of it.

That’s all we can do.

As long as you look back

on your life

and see more than

your body just sitting

and waiting for

something better,

I’d say your life -

your amazing life -

can be wholeheartedly celebrated

just as was mine.


This poem is about: 
My community
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