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“Nothing Gold Can Stay”: A Poem about Cancer

The early sun peeks over the mountain

and the morning breeze brushes my cheek.

My cousin’s flowers are just beginning to bloom,

Proof of a new beginning.

I smile.

It’s like any other morning,

I am late for class as usual,

And as usual I take a moment too long to embrace the day ahead.

A bird flits by welcoming the morning with me,

and a calm settles over me.

It doesn’t last as I speed to school.

I am reminded of the old Robert Frost poem,

“Nothing gold can stay”

As the sun rises higher and the morning dew melts away.


Hours later I return home

The warmth of the day has awakened more blooms

And coaxed my cousin’s dogs outside to play.

Pings, tings, dings, and dongs

fill the air as my cousin works tirelessly.

Five landlocked boats, three tired jet skis, and a humble camper

eagerly await his talented hands.

I imagine the adventures they have seen,

And the ones they will see when he is finished.

A real-life King Midas turning tarnished things to gold.

A cigarette hanging from his lips.

A death sentence he outran many years ago.

We have cheated fate and enjoyed a decade more together.

A decade of loud noises coming from next door.

Noises I had found comfort in.

A decade of throwing frisbees and balls

With dogs that were like family.

A decade of conversations and dinners shared,

Whether you really wanted to come over or not.

A decade of waving “hello” every day

Welcoming me home.

A decade of your smile

And your kind, wise eyes.

But “nothing gold can stay.”


The last few days were the hardest,

Knowing you were in so much pain.

The cancer had taken over.

You weren’t you anymore.

Your eyes once filled with so much light and humor,

Were now dark and ashy.

Your voice what was always so soothing,

Was cracked and strained.

Life was draining out of you before our eyes.

“Nothing gold can stay.”


Sweet relief came to you in the early hours,

And our lives were changed forever.

For weeks what was once the best part of my day

Has now become a painful reminder.

Coming home to deafening silence,

And an empty yard.

No smile left to greet me,

Or a thoughtful wave to welcome me home.

Just your memory hanging heavily in my heart.

You are gone.

One by one your possessions were surgically removed.

Ghosts of the projects you loved so much,

And an empty house now up for sale

Are all that’s left of you.

“Nothing gold can stay.”


Years have passed

And your memory is light again.

I am grateful you are no longer suffering,

And I know it wasn’t all bad.

The moments we shared that seemed so small

Are now what I cling to.

Our last conversation rings in my head,

“I am so proud of you,” you said with a glint in your eye.

“I miss you,” and “I love you,”

Are the words I wish I could say to you today,

But “nothing gold can stay.”

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Kayla Lee

Utah '22

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