Saturday, August 02, 2008

August 2, 2008 - More Cancer Poetry

The New York Times blog I cited on July 29th directed me to another website, The Cancer Poetry Project.

Here’s another cancer poem from that website, this one by a woman named Marjorie Woodbury. She died in 1993 of leukemia, but wrote this poem about her uncle, who died from lung cancer. It’s called “Chocolates”:

When he wakes with pain pounding
his spine, and it’s still two hours
before she can give him the fat yellow capsule
he craves, she offers chocolates
instead. He runs his hand over cellophane,
and suddenly he, to whom nothing
has tasted good for weeks, rips
the box open, devours an orange cream,
then three more, before offering them
to her. Propped against the big bed’s headboard,
knees drawn up, they eat chocolates
like children: testing centers for flavor, licking their fingers,
letting wrappers fall in the sheets.
He savors the sweet on his tongue,
and it lulls him, like her quiet talk
of gardening, the cats, groceries she must buy
the next day, until they sense
another night past. Turning from each other,
they breathe more easily, crumpled, fluted wrappers
rustling when they turn, the empty box between them.

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