Maya Marshall

Vacation Two Days after Diagnosis

Corvids coast on thermals up to the house on the mountain. They swim
the sky like it’s water. And we, naked two, eat oatmeal and honey. We swim

into the morning through grand ideas on reparations. Poor folks glide into debt
at the bottom of this wistful weekend rental. Thoughts I want to shun swim:

diagnosis to caress, pubic hair to hair loss, radiation to burial. Plant me with a tree,
you say. Or let my ashes skim the skies with the other black birds. Plenty of couples swim

through age and dinner parties, bored and unscathed. I’m interrupting this gorgeous morning,
pardon me. Beloved, I’ll try to admire the crown molding that you study till your eye swims

from one end of the skylight to the other. You’re planning our home. I know. Your smile
breaks and we watch the fog settle over the range, settle on the settee. Maybe we’ll swim

in the jacuzzi. This morning a black bird chirps from the rail. Outside, time slides
like a current, steady, unstoppable. This early spring Sunday we sample luxury, our heads swim

with days-old news. Forgive me, I don’t want to talk to you about illness today. I don’t want
my fear in your pocket. Still, cancer is a distant siren getting close. It’s funny, my desire swims

to your mouth and only stops when you apologize for your body. I wish our names weren’t
in this story. As for the metastasis in your body, may it drown. May radiotherapy win.

Maya Marshall is the author of the poetry collection All the Blood Involved in Love. She cofounded underbelly, the journal on the practical magic of poetic revision. Her writing has been published in Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Best New Poets, Poets & Writers, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Adelphi University.
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