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Two Poems

Making Plans

Cocooned in sheets, she clings

to Caribbean dreams of topaz water

and white sand, calypso music

and fruity drinks with umbrellas.

Ever the pragmatist, I pull her

from spindrift with urgency of agenda.

All week she’s eyed the calendar’s

red circle like a dog unwilling

to step outside, front legs stiff,

claws dug into shag. If I never

go to the doctor, she reasons,

he can’t tell me anything’s wrong.

Knowing how hope fuels her engine,

I dangle promises of Virginia Beach,

a stroll along its boardwalk, languorous

stretch beneath a plump sun lolling

in endless sky. Push her out the door

with assurances that nothing will be amiss,

belief as certain as our weekend plans,

the ones we will completely forget

in a few short hours.

The Sweetest Lie

It didn’t come up at all today—

her cancer,

the way its tentacles

snake through the weave of her life.

I once worried its shadow

would swallow

every bright moment

like shiny baubles stuffed in a sack,

but now and then

sunlight burns through

like today

when it didn’t come up at all.

We piled into my car, Dawn in front,

her two Rottweilers in back,

tongues lolling out windows

as we lazed along the Colonial Parkway.

Trees stood shoulder-to-shoulder,

trunks shielding us

from ugly thoughts,

boughs interlocked

like laced fingers of lovers.

It didn’t come up at all

as we cruised through forest,

Dawn’s hand surfing the breeze

as she named each

of our roadside companions:

Sycamore. Birch. Dogwood. Pine.

Neither of us mentioned

the purple threads of wisteria

limning the green

or the analogy they hearkened.

Instead, we parked at Dog Beach,

where the Rotties

raced along the surf,

retreating from waves like lava

then chasing seagulls into air.

We skipped rocks,

gathered fan-shaped seashells,

spread a blanket for a picnic.

At one point

I held my breath

when a cloud rolled across her face.

As Dawn’s smile cracked,

I feared what its broken pieces

might convey.

But she dropped her gaze

to a conical cerith,

scraped its sand-crusted contours

with her thumbnail,

and it didn’t come up at all.


Bill Glose is a former paratrooper and combat platoon leader. The author of four poetry collections, Glose was named the Daily Press Poet Laureate in 2011 and featured by NPR on The Writer’s Almanac in 2017. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The Missouri Review, Rattle, Narrative Magazine, and Poet Lore. His current work reflects upon a time filled with dread, the panic-filled year after his girlfriend was diagnosed with lung cancer.

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