A Cancer Poem
Here's to my wife, her doctors, and a year in remission.
We are very grateful.
This poem originally appeared in The Georgetown Review.
They call it fine needle,
not for any beauty
in the sharp itself, but because
it is thin, keen, attenuated--
a point brought so delicately to your throat,
you said you felt only
motion: pressure against the skin,
then a slight wiggle of the doctor’s hand
and the needle withdrawn.
The nurse brought me to you
and we drove home in near silence,
the bandage on your neck
marked by a dot of blood.
After you were settled
with your magazines, a cup of tea,
your chestnut hair lit by the sunlight
of that October afternoon,
I went back to work––having no choice,
I claimed––and as I drove
south of town, I saw wrens
massed in a stand of trees, fluttering
down––two, four, three-after-one––
because that is the way of wrens, gathered
in autumn. They were lit
by the same light as your hair, the trees––
they were aspens––gold, and the birds’ wings
illumined, front and back. Then,
in my blind spot, I lost the wrens
and became almost frantic, until Yes, they came
again in the rearview mirror––their wings
lit up, their bodies still fluttering
endlessly to ground.