If you were our pet dog and someone said

That you were brain-dead, I’d have no hesitation

In asking the vet to put you to sleep by lethal injection,

Would treat it as a kindness after twelve years of life.


But you are my son, grown inside me for nine long months,

Nurtured until an accident took you from my side, into

This hospital bed, surrounded by machines, breathing

Only because a ventilator is doing the work for you.


Now the judges at the court have ruled it’s cruel

To keep you here, want to switch off life-support.

They don’t believe I felt you squeeze my hand,

Think that I imagined you’re still here with me.


We wait to see if we can appeal, keep you here

A while longer, surely a mother knows what’s best.

If you were a pet dog I’d have you put to sleep,

But you’re my son, flesh of my flesh,


I won’t believe that you are dead.


Joyce Walker

Joyce is a retired administrator who has had poetry and stories published in a number of magazines.  She won 1st prize in the Writers Brew story competition in 2002 and was runner up in the Erewash Writers Burst Flash fiction competition in 2013.  Her most recent win was 1st prize in the Writers Forum Poetry competition, published December 2021.  She loves the First World War Poets. She has work published in Aayo Magazine, Awen, Orbis and Monomyth.


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