We went as far as the car would take us.
We who crossed paths with the bomber
and lived the whole afternoon through.
We who used to ride bikes like horses,
high enough on the bridle
to touch the animals’ ears with our own.
We who loved our parents because
it felt like winning a contest. Then,
for a moment winning became a terrible
noise. For a moment being a parent was
knowing that the purpose of devotion is
oblivion, and that oblivion rests on
further tests: It’s a tumor, Dad, we said.
With our hands around our necks,
we didn’t worry about being dramatic,
because crossing the parking lot
made as little sense as crossing
over the Lethe. Later, we should have
told him not to worry about anyone
seeing him cry. Those Red Cross
nurses, with their morphine boats,
went on killing the same number of moths
as they did butterflies….
Mark Yakich’s next book, Poetry: A Survivor’s Guide, is forthcoming from Bloomsbury. He teaches at Loyola University New Orleans.
Tumors in tissue serum, using UPA as a possible tumor marker, RPCI summer 2002. Image by Gabriella Lavine via Flickr.
Click on the image to enlarge.