CANCER SPEAKS IN TONGUES | Suzanne Edison
After we recounted her life
in two languages—las palabras
y historias, her red wine love,
her edgy name, la jefa, words,
meant to keep su vida close,
all I could think of was the wasp
clinging to her kitchen-door screen,
caution-yellow stripes fading
into black. Its buzz, like the words
spoken earlier, vibrating, papering
the air, hanging too
like the wasp’s nest—wood-scraped,
chewed and spit into a delicate hollow.
When its chambered cells are empty, lightness
betrays the colony it once held.
And at the service, weren’t some of us thinking,
not wanting to think,
what will be said of us?
Maybe also the gray-metal toolbox
she left me—unable to close,
no matter how much oil I salved
on its rusted hinges, reminded me
we lie about the dead,
trying to shut out
what’s unfinished or stuck,
in our heads.
Yes, the dead call to us in foreign dialects:
once-wet paintings hanging dried
in apple trees, the plunk and roll
of apples letting go the branch,
a bruised heaviness.
Suzanne Edison MA, MFA, writes most often about the intersection of illness, healing, medicine and art. She has a child living with Juvenile Myositis. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, The Moth Eaten World. She has been awarded grants from Artist Trust; Seattle City Artists, and 4Culture of King County, Seattle. Poems are forthcoming in About Place Journal; other poetry can be found in JAMA; SWWIM, What Rough Beast, Bombay Gin, The Naugatuck River Review, The Ekphrastic Review and in several anthologies including The Healing Art of Writing, Volume One. She is a board member of the Cure JM Foundation and teaches writing workshops at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Richard Hugo House in Seattle. www.seedison.com