I don’t want the miracle.
I want to hold fast to my hurt, my fear
ringing in my ears. The mole you show me
in your hair harks back to my oldest worry: the cancer
that ate a friend in a few years time, a story that never ends.
Oh, every in-explainable bump leads me to the flu that was a
brain tumor. If I let the lines arrange themselves like a fan that
moves out and then retreats, will this prayer save everyone I love
from death? When is a mole just a mole and when is it a precursor
to cancer? Every day I try to be here now, to wrap my love up in
a blanket the way Cathy’s American flag afghan wrapped a-
round her tiny body right there in that casket that took
her into the ground to where she began. We all have
that place in us that tings in a way we recognize:
you show me a mole and I’m back there
learning about death. I’m in my purple
pinstriped pants and I’m broken
open in grief. Yesterday I met
a stranger who said her baby
is due on the 4th of July
the day Cathy was born.
The period destroys the pattern of my poem.
The way her story ended started my story
that I tell so often that my husband knows
a hug works when her name enters the room.
My daughter shows me a mole, a birthmark
hidden by her beautiful brown hair. I take my oldest story
and I rip it to shreds. I place it in this poem and bless it and
marvel that the woman expecting a 4th of July baby crossed
paths with me on the same day that my worry flared.
Cathy: you are a name that breathes inside my body
a story made too large, a gentle breeze that’s also a riptide.