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You were supposed to be a doctor
like your white-coated parents,
superheroes with stethoscopes
on a mission to heal across continents.

You can't stop death, just chronicle it.
Another elegy or rant. Words clot
in the fingers or contort into gibberish.
Medicine for no one.

Yet you won’t cease your scrutiny--
the shudder of a sleeping lover’s limbs,
a child’s frantic panting deepening into peace,
flickering of your mother’s eyelids.
Gulp, gasp, sob, shiver, quake.
Symptom becomes symbol.

The heart more
than defective clock, plugged pump?
Opened, calmed, ignited
with a precise image or phrase.
Slice into the past and root
for what festers. Suture with words
the soul’s ragged chasms.
The poem remains,
a small silvery trail.

Fiona Tinwei Lam is the author of two poetry books, Intimate Distances (finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Prize), Enter the Chrysanthemum and most recently the illustrated children’s book, The Rainbow Rocket. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction appear in over twenty-four anthologies, including The Best Canadian Poetry 2010 and In Fine Form: An anthology of Canadian Form Poetry. Her poems have been twice selected for BC’s Poetry in Transit program. She co-edited the literary nonfiction anthology, Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood, and edited The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poetry about Facing Cancer. Fiona's website is at