Rough Waters


Rough Waters

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.

-NSA, 2.6.2018


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