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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 10: October 2021
Poem: 194 words
By Virginia A. Smith

Treatment Aria

When the cough fractures my focus 
on Cézanne’s apples and oranges—
their grace against gravity nearly 
holy—we leave the Musée d’Orsay. 
Landing at Café Bohème, I order 
water and wine to clear my dry 
throat, Frisée aux Lardons and 
poached eggs to fill our bellies. 

Likely the rare smoke on our Euro 
holidays birthed this hack. At work, 
Penn Medical’s CT scan bids my 
visual brain to see delicate pattern, 
not NSCLC, not death. 

I dress for immunotherapy in high 
boots, silver jewelry, and gauzy gray, 
black and white dresses—maps of my 
lungs. Chicness signals I am worth 
saving. I picture the IV flow into my 
vein a cool stream from Monet’s water lilies. 

John and I drive West, hiking Arches, 
red rock reaching cyan heavens, 
Badlands’ sand and clay canyons, 
ravines, hoodoos and gullies unthinkable 
moonscape, our homecoming an explosion 
of green, my fuck cancer peony tulips 
a collision of magenta and purple, and I 
a puddle of joy. Living well-deep and river-wide, 
I walk Philadelphia from the Schuylkill 
to the Delaware, ready my baby girl’s 50th fete. 
I’m not afraid of dying. 
It’s just another adventure. 


Virginia A. Smith
Issue 10, October 2021

Philadelphia adopted VA Smith in her mid-life; there she reads and writes, hikes and bikes, serves as a home chef/caterer, and loves on her family and friends. Her poems are published in Review, The Southern Quarterly, The Southern Review, Pure Slush’s Growing Up, Uppagus, Yes Poetry, and Corvus Review; and forthcoming in West Trade Review, Silkworm, Verdad, Quartet, Evening Street Press, and Parkinson’s Poetry. Her book, Biking Through The Stone Age, is forthcoming in 2022 from Kelsay Books.

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