COMING BACK NORTH | Bruce Jennings


You came back north with nothing

but cancer and a line of credit


forsaking the south Florida smell

the taste of water you didn’t like

seeking a bed near mine.


You came back north with

no need to speak of credit or debt

we knew what was to be,

played out in a zone of life

where obligation whispers.


You came back north with nothing

but x-rays and memories


we exchanged two views:

inside out and present to past

no hope and hoping backward


You came north to go back

and I had to find my own way home.


Bruce Jennings is a bioethicist and a faculty member at Vanderbilt in the Department of Health Policy and Center for Biomedical Ethics. His mother died with hospice care in his home in New York many years ago.