Three Poems by Mary Sesso

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Waiting For a Hospital Bed

Time stops in a room where flowers
bloom on walls and a cardinal sits
on a branch with leaves reddening
but never fall. I wonder about silver trees
through the window until I grow silver
myself. The one comfort: any chaff
hiding in my body like a trapped animal
will soon be set free.

Hours stack up. It’s like a security line
rushing to a stand-still. Nurses say
Soon though I know it’s a sweet white lie.
Before the peach fuzz of dawn rises,
I want to fall into a bed like a feather falls
from a pillow.

Hope Wears a Cowboy Hat

My son’s face is all axes and knives
because he finds out he has cancer,
not from the doctor, but by the tech who asks
if he wants to be part of a chemo study.
I feel like a bullet is aimed at his heart
that only hope can stop.

Hope is hard to hang onto. It’s like
trying to remember last night’s dream.
To get my arms around it, I’ll have
to give it time to grow muscle,
but waiting is tough on the body.
Stomach acid has no shut-off valve,
skin wets itself and dreams stick a finger
in your eye.

Before the moon finds reasons to lose
its shine, I make peace in my tug-of-war
with hope. It’s time for Eric to put on
his second-hand, stringy cowboy hat
and play some cool jazz.

Popsicle Dream

…but behind all your stories is always your mother’s story,
because hers is where yours begins.—Mitch Albom

Novenas to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
work to stare down the shadow
that follows her as she carries mop
and bucket up and down stairs,
into the kitchen where bushes of peaches,
plums, pears wait to be canned for children
whose stomachs are filled with hunger.
In this world, love keeps itself in the dark,
though the trace of a caress on the shoulder
stirs the air if highballs don’t rough it up.

Does she ever have a popsicle dream
where maid turns into princess? With
parted lips and half-shut eyes, she dances
under the moon until the sky torches itself.
Gaudy. Red, like the skirt she swirls.

Mary Sesso is a retired nurse who’s a member of the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md and active in 3 writing groups. She volunteers at the National Children’s Center where she sits on the Human Rights Committee. Her latest work has appeared in Emerge Literary Journal, Cardinal Sins, Loch Raven’s Review and One Art. Her second chapbook, “Her Mother’s Hair Plays With Fire,” was published in 2022.

Image: Window of a Hospital Room, contri, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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