The Last Train (Sonnet)

We wait at the station, Mother and I,
one final stop for her – painless she prays;
I linger at bedside – prolonged goodbye –
memories and regrets filling our days.

“We live too long,” she wearily proclaims,
“Why must suffering linger till the end?”
I plea and bargain, call angelic names,
yet the will to survive refuses to bend.

The urgency builds as my time dwindles;
must I leave her in this compromised state?
She rallies and stands on wobbly spindles
dismisses fears – has accepted her fate.

Some destinations are clearly defined –
death is a train whose schedule’s unkind.

(Penned for dVerse’s poetry forms – the sonnet.)


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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

46 thoughts on “The Last Train (Sonnet)”

  1. perfect sonnet, wonderfully crafted and wrapped in quiet pain, over which we cannot rage, but oh it still hurts. I get a real Emily Dickenson feel from the topic and the setting, a journey, and an argument. “I could not stop for death so he kindly stopped for me…” but with the challenge of our times the result of our progress and increased longevity is a different type of suffering, so the waiting and the waiting. I believe that courage is needed in every life, as a physician, I see this same type of courage of waiting for patients and loved ones every day… “schedule is unkind.” Such a true clinching argument. Printing this for my waiting room. I’m a late poster on this month long trail, glad I decided to play, wouldn’t have seen this otherwise. Thank you.

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  2. You brought up an old memory. Traveling by train as a child. Wanting to board the train — tired of the waiting room (old style station). A railway worker pausing, stooping down and telling me, “Why, son! You can’t board the train until it comes.”

    A life lesson. It still holds true.

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  3. These are difficult times, I’m sure, V.J. This sonnet is so well crafted on many levels. First of all, sonnets are not an easy poetic form but you did a great job the meter and rhyme that did not seem forced at all. The emotion expressed is very moving and brought me to my own mother’s unexpected death almost 20 years ago. The couplet at the end pulled everything together so well. You seem to be channeling the emotions of this difficult time in a very healthy way. Take care of yourself, friend.

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    1. Thank you so much, LuAnne. As I write in a bubble, your critique is so appreciated. Thank goodness we have writing as a way of processing. It is a difficult time. I pray for my mother’s swift passage out of pain and at the same time, selfishly do not want her to go. Bless you for your caring thoughts.

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  4. The train analogy works so well here. I find it easy to question why those who have lived a dignified life have to suffer in the end. This resonated as I watched my grandmother fade so slowly at 97. She actually said to me, “no one should live this long”. I am so sorry that you are going through this very difficult time with your mom. (((hugs)))

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  5. My mother in law can sometimes be in the same mood, and then she finds something to look forward to and she can suffer the pains… my mother has lost almost everything, but maybe that’s better… we celebrated her 90 years birthday this weekend…

    The sonnet is painful an wonderful, the final couplet summarizes the way very well

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    1. Thanks Björn. I just flew home to be at my mother’s side – seems her body is shutting down – but then she rallied. Like your mother-in-law, she keeps finding something else to live for.


  6. In January 1990 my mother died … having endured life-on-tubes for over a month … she was alert, blinking her eyes in a code I never grasped, unable to speak. I’m quite sure (as I was then) that she really wanted it to all be over asap. You are spot-on with death being an unkind train; not terribly punctual, not necessarily a gentle ride once it departs. It’s been 29 years, yet your poem brings it home fresh. Good writing, VJ. Sad things we live through, some seeming to live “too long” to suit themselves, those who love them, all wishing for peaceful transition.

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  7. Sigh… how achingly this reminds me on my own mothers final days. A most beautiful sonnet, VJ, that truly captures the essence of sadness and the indiscriminate nature of death.

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