June 30, 2009



The first night, I felt a tightness in my chest,
the heart fluttered, and I took a deep breath.
My mind raced, not knowing this alien
sensation. I ignored it, and it went
away. The morning after, sugar spilled
over the counter; pouring down Corn Flakes.

I called my mother, telling her about
the dull pain in my stomach and the night
before. She told me to relax. “Maturity
is a gradual condition of decline.”
I breathe deeper now, every night and watch
the brightening of the east. My hair is

gone, falling out in large clumps. Since then, I
have invested a fortune in Drano.


The doctor holds the X-ray to the light,
pointing at the blurry spots. He frowns as
he turns towards her. “I’m afraid it’s returned,”
he said. I pull her close to me but can’t
speak. “Remission” was the happiest word,
but “relapse” silences all active tongues.

She turned away from science & from me.
Her gaze rested instead on herbalist,
acupuncturist, new-age charlatans
giving her hope where others had failed.
Every day she would pray, and eat bean sprouts.
She grew thinner, and the lines on her face

Illustrated the resignation she
had finally acquiesced to this cold fate.

He wouldn’t go near her casket, wouldn’t
even look at her lying cold and still.
I tried to tell him that plasticine face
amd those waxy hands were not hers, were not
anything but the mortician’s own craft.
“It’s all artifice, you see. She’s still here
with us as long as you hold her in your
heart.” He didn’t listen, or didn’t hear.

Everyone was there, a homecomming no
one asked for. Maybe it helped all of us
move on and accept our fate in the world.
Or maybe we’re all lying to ourselves.
Maybe this fate is impossible to accept;
then we all must cry with empty arms.