Born Under Cancer

Now the leaves turn and whitethroats are on the wing,
Migrants to a far land.
We in this still ward waiting almost hear
The knife turn in the hand
Of the grave, white-coated surgeon who will bring
Death in the dying year.
The malign growth claims its victim and tongues wag,
Recalling his crusty shell
And claw that seemed hardly human.
These never tapped the limpid well
Which only the water diviner could dig
Or perhaps a woman.
What epitaph for one whom I saw only
Reflected in the corner of my eye?
I cannot riddle what his fate meant
Or where the pattern went awry.
I can but give to those whom he leaves lonely
This oblique statement.