After retiring from 22 years at Ripon College, I have moved to the Berkshires with my husband and two spaniels. While I miss my students, colleagues, prairie walks, and skies filled with sandhill cranes, I am nourished by the beauty of the mountains every time I walk up the road or take a drive. Co-editor (with David Graham) of After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography (Graywolf), my most recent publications include Cooking With The Muse (Tupelo), SoFloPoJo, One, and Crab Orchard Review
We hold hands as if a spotted moth
from the mountains waits inside them
to be set free in a foreign place. Crushing
traffic almost disappears. Spring breezes fan
the city, offer hope of good news and surprising
solitude within an antiseptic overcrowded space.
Inside the cancer center, I look but don’t look,
feel heavy as a spruce. My first impulse is to leave
you sitting alone among the diagnosed. Rush
back outside on ethereal feet, shed the chipper tone
when your name is called. Let you push yourself
through the revolving doors of your own optimism.
Can you sense my impatience cocooning
until results are clear? How torn between
one body and another I am? Yours smelling
faintly of needles and iced tea. Mine weak
cafeteria coffee and a blueberry muffin’s
artificial aftertaste. Time to un-camouflage,
concentrate. Turn from your muted denim shirt
to the doctor’s words in a bright Italian accent.
Let them fall welcome as raindrops after we leave
even though it’s not raining and the brainy sun
searches for skeptics when they exit. Look at it,
so high in the sky like a researcher trying to save
us all. The elevator starts and stops between
floors, letting out the doomed as well as those
in remission. The shaft is a river. Our car floats
home on deep sighs of relief, the wheel in your
hands transformed, the fleeting Mass Pike
measuring how far the moth has traveled.
© 2017 Kate Sontag
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