Dying Young

Mermaid 3 - Copy

by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Midnight, and again I’m chasing
sleep: its fresh-linen smell and
deep sinking, but when I close my eyes I see
my son, closing his eyes. I’m afraid of that dream,
the tape looped demise as cancer claims him.

My artist friend cancels her L.A. trip. Unplugs the
internet. Reverts to source. If cancer
will not let go its grip then she will
return its embrace. Squeeze the life out of
her life. Ride it for all it’s worth.`

By the time his friends arrive at the cabin
my son is exhausted, stays behind while
the others set out on a hike. He picks up the phone.
“Mom, it’s so quiet here. The air has never
been breathed before. It’s snowing.”

I put on Mozart. A warm robe. Make a pot
of camomile tea. The view from my 8th floor
window, spectacular, the sliver moon, the stark,
neon-smeared buildings, their windows dark.
Sometimes I think I am the only one not sleeping.

My artist friend wants to draw the rain. She
wants to paint her memories, wrap the canvas
around her like a burial shroud.

Tonight, a girl in a yellow dress stands below
my window, top lit by a street lamp, her long shadow
spilling into the street. She’s waiting for someone.

I want to tell my friend I’ll miss her.
I want to tell my son I understand.
I want to tell the girl he won’t be coming.
That it’s nothing personal. He died young.

Originally published in Broadzine!


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