There Was a Young Woman With Cancer

By Susan Blackwell Ramsey

Featured art: In the Spirit of Hoffmann by Paul Klee

With each remission she’d take it up again,
her search for proof her great love Edward Lear
was influenced by the Irish poet Mangan,
and while we weeded she would bend my ear
with her latest evidence: an owl here,
elsewhere a pussycat or a beard, a wren.
I was polite, but it was pretty thin.
There was one word, though,
some nonsense confabulation that occurred
in Mangan first, so odd that it could not
be accident. Then cancer, like a weed
we’d missed, some snapped-off root or dormant seed.
The last cure killed her. I would give a lot
to be able to recall that word.

Susan Blackwell Ramsey’s work has appeared recently in The Southern Review, Ecotone, and 32 Poems; her book, A Mind Like This, won the Prairie Schooner Poetry Book Prize. She lives in Kalamazoo.

Originally published in NOR 22.

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