Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Virginia Poet Laureate Emerita, has co-edited three anthologies and published nine books, including These Flecks of Color: New and Selected Poems and The Embrace, winner of the Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award. Her poems appear widely throughout the United States and abroad in such journals as Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, World Poetry Yearbook, Universal Oneness, and Best of Literary Journals. She can be found at: www.carolynforonda.com.
In sleep I saw the muddy water
covering my feet and rising.
A sign of illness, my mother warned,
and in dream after dream
the turbulent waters deepened.
When I fell ill that sultry summer
thirty years back, the marigolds
lost their scent and withered.
Near-death came, and I rose
into a cream-colored sky, hovered
over the bed, the room airless.
The miracle came in an old-fashioned
courtesy call from the family doctor,
life being simple and honest.
Always, my luck has startled me.
This morning, for example, the cat,
sensing sadness, jumps into my lap
and kneads his paws so I will
praise him. A little gift, my mother
called it whenever the habitual turned
wondrous. I pat the cat’s sleek fur,
the purring so close to what I am feeling,
his lick cleansing my forearm
and in the distance, the doctor’s
careful hold as he lifts me from the bed.
“The Healing” first appeared in Virginia Writing and was reprinted in the author’s books, Death Comes Riding (SCOP Publications, Inc., ©1999) and These Flecks of Color: New and Selected Poems (San Francisco Bay Press, ©2018).
Nicholas Wong is the author of Crevasse (Kaya Press, 2015), the winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and Besiege Me (Noemi Press, 2021). He is also the recipient of the Australian Book Review’s Peter Porter Poetry Prize. His translation has recently appeared or will appear in Ninth Letter, The Georgia Review, Washington Square Review, Colorado Review, Cincinnati Review, Poetry Northwest, and Black Warrior Review. IG: @citiesofsameness.
I SWIPE MY AMEX TO COVER MY FATHER’S TREATMENT FOR A VIRUS
IN HIS LUNGS I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE
At the hospital, we’ve become
entrepreneurs of standing around.
My head’s spinning like an agitator.
My point being, in comparison,
you’re a black hole.
My _____-ness can’t be spoken
of like my salary. We should, but can’t
talk about my nights that involve
many limbs. I think _____ thoughts,
play _____ chess, walk _____ dogs.
I’m bored & proud, you say.
Even then, I knew you knew it.
When the virus stippled your lungs,
I imagined you asking me why I read
Sartre. I imagined you saying,
You aren’t like me. True,
my _____ shadow ruffles
on your burdock-reeking torso,
& my lungs aren’t shadowed,
computed, invoiced, item
by item, then saved & paid
for, then turned into redeemable
mileage, mane, & deer fences
I pretend feel exotic
in numerous selfies to pay
the filial debts of my _____ skin.
You remain beside me
like a receipt. Years later, will someone
say, True when I say what you’ve said?
Without leaving me alone to feel
the being & depletion
of being ______?
This poem was first published in Copper Nickel.