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.
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.