The leaves dulled out this year, too dry
to make scarlets or flashing golds,
and so this rain strips them off quick,
quicker than a knife scales a fish.
Pain, far-away thunder, rumbles my spine.
“Eventually,” the doctor said
(careful but quick,
and definite as lightning dividing sky)
“this will become a life-ending issue.
But we’ll take it day by day.”
So that’s how I took it.
Day by day. All the long summer.
Staying wet: Getting up to my neck in lakes,
letting my kayak find its own way through bogs,
letting my feet follow my nieces across Boston,
all of us dancing to the downpour
on Old Ironsides’ deck.
I took it day by day:
Watching the sun come up
and watching it drop,
sudden as dry leaves, hard rain, knives.
“. . . when I think of Sally, the moment I will most remember is the hush that followed her reading of her poem, “The Patient Addresses Her Disease,” at the Plymouth Writers Group gathering to celebrate the publication of Lessons Learned. She had stunned us all into silence with that reading, in which she addressed her cancer as ‘old shadow, long time companion.’ In that moment, I knew I had never known anyone more courageous.” —Meg Petersen, Of Karma and Courage, Tributes to Sally Boland