On Learning My Sister Has Cancer
by Ysabel de la Rosa

The winter sun
illuminates the dead grass
paints the elm’s branches
onto the cottage wall

_______Tumors discovered

Bird song—somewhere—
rises into the morning air.
Are the feathered ones as
glad as I am to see the snow
has gone?

_______Not just colon

We used to look out
our father’s study window
at the birds who came to
the ancient linden tree:
oriole, tanager, jay

____Anemia, the tumor bleeds,
____and, in the lab, the blood speaks
____for the lesioned liver

There were no grackles then,
no shiny trick birds with
iridescent feathers whose
sound rasped against the ear,
but they roost here now, close,
in my own yard

________We have promised
________each other
________prayer, hope, a
________shared battle

There was Light then, working
its way through linden leaves,
window panes and onto two
young faces looking out on the world.
There is Light now. Even the
grackles know this and
croak their praise.

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