In Cancer

by Joan Houlihan

Strung days, a puncture
and the insect entered
You told me: All dies. 
For this, we’re intended.

Strung then by peonies’
heft and lush waste
I hid from the day.

Inside, the walls speckle.
Stark, kitchen-lit
flies pock the table
black as dropped seeds.

Though I go slowly
they startle—
bodies alive
with unshuttable eyes.

A simple swat exhausts me.
Let me forget. Let them flee
death. Their thrum is harmless.

Our summer’s begun
as the iris rises from sword-
shaped leaves, its veiny sac
a purse of grief.

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