from "Strange City," a manuscript in progress

These poems attempt a chronicle of the year and a half when, in early middle age, my wife and I found ourselves both diagnosed and treated for cancer; my wife first, then me. I was diagnosed on her last day of chemotherapy. Some of these poems were written bedside in the hospital, in a hospital bed myself, in the valleys of chemo treatments, or on the high road of reprieves.

Twelve

Sometimes
At noon
Night falls

Advertisement

Who knows
The day
Or hour

 

Forty-Nine

What I fear
Is language
Will die

With you
If you do
When

I speak
Already
No one

Understands
A word
I mean

 

Fifty-One

Everything
Given
Goes

Not from
Dust to
Dust but flesh

To flesh
Then flesh
To ash

Now
Or later
Soon

She forgets
She stands
Before us

Receding
Stay reply love
Deny

 

Fifty-Nine

I know
I cause
My body

To bleed
For you
As if

To suffer
For you
Just as

They say
He bled
For us

 

One Hundred and Twenty-Three

She called me
In from
The storm

Sat with me
In her
Gold cage

She’d been
Where I would be
Going

She told me
She envied
My youth

She confided
She’d been healed
By Christ

I stumbled
Back into
The storm

Shivering
But not from
The cold

Sometimes/ At noon/ Night falls

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
More: Poems

The latest from america

Pope Francis urged Chinese Catholics on Wednesday to trust him and make concrete gestures of reconciliation following the landmark deal over bishop appointments.
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 26, 2018
iStock/Duncan_Andison
What I've learned from more than 50 years in service of the church.
John CarrSeptember 25, 2018
"Rome nominates, the pope nominates. That is clear!”
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 25, 2018
“I have never, never given a pardon on a conviction.”
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 25, 2018