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  1. Michael James Leach
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael James Leach, 17 Maxwell Crescent, Strathdale, Victoria 3550, Australia; mleach11{at}

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You spent most your life

with your head in the clouds

of smoke that billowed forth

from the O-shaped mouths

of the ones you love.


You never smoked

so much as one cigarette

in all your cloudy days

spent in places you came

to call bittersweet home.


Your parents and husband

fought for breath and coughed

blood before dying one by one,

leaving you and your

dear daughter all alone.


You lived on as a widow

who sold bright bouquets to

people who knew you by a

smoker’s cough, a cheeky smile, and

photos of your granddaughter.


When the time came for you

to fight for breath and cough blood,

you felt a poignant love

for the grand one who shaved

her tiny head for your cure.


The chemo made you

bald like your granddaughter

and vomit like your daughter

yet kept you alive for

the birth of your grandson.


All winter, your oncologist

wore the crochet scarf

that you made especially for her

just before moving out

of your bittersweet home.


Your family often visited

your spacious hospice room

to be there with you as

you faded like the old

flowers in your closed shop.


You spent your last days

with your head in the clouds

of soothing words that flowed forth

from the inverting, U-shaped mouths

of the ones you love.

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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