Julia Lisella

MS and Cancer

Maybe it is just interference, 
the sound that culture makes when the woods are still green with saplings. 

Like new forests your words are suspicious to me 
but don’t I have to honor them? Turns out all weekend 

while we waited to hear your news about a cancer growing inside you 
you’d decided without any of us, your friends, 

that if it were true, you wouldn’t treat it, that you were already 
too wounded to repair that piece of your body. 

Now I think to that early summer night, your walker spun from our circle 
and set to break beside the patio table  

and the fire smoking while you sipped your wine 
you’d been having your last laugh, 

so when you tell me now the nurse called you and said NO CANCER 
you were mine again just like that; I hadn’t known until then 

I had lost you even for a day.

Julia Lisella is the author of two poetry collections, Always and Terrain, and a chapbook, Love Song Hiroshima. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Pangyrus, Lily, Ploughshares, Paterson Literary Review, Mom Egg Review, Nimrod and others, and are widely anthologized. She teaches at Regis College and co-curates the IAWA Reading Series in Boston.

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