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—
the way its tentacles
snake through the weave of her life.
I once worried its shadow
every bright moment
like shiny baubles stuffed in a sack,
but now and then
sunlight burns through
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,
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
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.