Dear Tishawne: 
how is your head? 
Has your skin thinned 
soft, like my mother’s did, years ago? 
Has your hair fainted? 
Do you float through air as the dust and ashes do?
Do the dogs now shrink from your touch? 
My mother said they sniff out poison, 
the infinite repeating rot that clutches at the haunches. 
They wait for The Victory or The Death.
Until then, they will not let you pet them. 
Have you touched a fuzzy dew-dropped blade of grass ? 
Do you find it curled up grey within the hour?  
My mother hated flowers during her poisoning. 
Their velvet petals smelled of metal, 
their color always withered at chemo-laden finger’s touch.
My mother suffered her houseguest for 2 years. 
Eventually, it departed.  
The chemo posted too many ragged eviction notices 
fluttering a muttering,  “It’s not her time to die, she must suffer life a little more.”  
Are you hungry? 
I have warmed you some miso. 
When you expel the congregation and the choir and all the angels and saints in heaven, 
when you are finally empty, drink in the time, the miso of silence.
There is nothing to do, but rest and get better.

Listen: I have found the rope and knotted it.
Here, take it. It is very thick. 
I weave seaman’s knots from lightning and sea brine tears.
The fraying burns all tiny hands that grab; 
except for yours, I hope 
this rope will pull you out of dark.
 Please, take this rope and climb. 
Or sit a while and swing gentle.
I am patient.
I will see you shine again a different way than you shine now, today. 

—Emily Romano

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