Beloved Son

Beloved Son
Senzhen, China

by Julie L. Moore

The newspaper photo exposes the hospital hallway:
eleven-year-old Liang Yaoyi
lies on a gurney, shrouded in green sheet;

six doctors in their scrubs, masks
over their mouths, surround the body,
lowering their capped heads,

as if Liang were the beloved son
of a king. His father stands ordinary
among the men, also bending forward.

Behind Liang, his mother covers her face
with her hands, perhaps, in tears,
perhaps in disbelief, still resisting

the diagnosis no prophecy foretold.
Before cancer usurped the boy’s brain,
along with his final breath,

he told his parents, There are many people
doing great things in the world. They are great,
and I want to be a great kid, too.

As the team wheeled him
into surgery so that others, within days,
could be born again

through his liver and kidney,
his unforgettable eyes,
doctors, father, mother,

all stopped amid the tiled walls
where pictures of flowers hung,
and someone snapped the scene into focus:

at the corridor’s end, light streams
from the O.R.’s open door,
bathing the bodies of the living

as they bow three times,
a trinity in awe
of death’s triumphant offering.

Read the Backstory

Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Book of the Year. A Best of the Net and five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she has also had poetry appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. Moore is an Associate Professor of English and the Writing Center Director at Taylor University, where she is the poetry editor for Relief: A Journal of Art and Faith. You can learn more about her work at