inside this love is a bird singing

at first no one spoke. no one looked up.

hope arrived in the form of this

one or that one: nurse, doctor, another cancer patient

looking past a head scarf to a smile. i pictured

birds: scrub jay, towhee, mockingbird;

finch, sparrow, dove—

who are you? i wondered, looking

into each one’s face. bird,

or man? woman, or wings?         

the world’s glass melted into waiting.

half-awake, i listened. heard one voice fill the clinic

with sickness, spit. another moaned

hunger, hunger. another

two, a pair cooing, filled

this no-heaven with plans for hope’s

return. in a day one can make

all kinds of plans, i thought,

imagining a child trembling, leaning back, taking

chemo into her veins. little twigs. they looked

like the feet of birds, or imprints

from a mother or father who,

clinging to the girl’s thin wrist

dug in and gripped, and in

the only animal way possible,

said live.

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