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Poetry

But instead of pressing palms
tight as I was taught,
I cup one palm
over the other—
fingertips to wrists—
before my belly.

This is how I show God
what I’m asking,
how I direct God’s hands
to dive into my husband’s gut
where cancer harbors
in the sea of his bladder—
a dark hulk gnawing at the shoreline.

How I show myself God’s hands—
ribbed and tawny as the shell
called lion’s paw—hinged
over the bladder, holding in—
I hope—all harm.

How I teach myself to sink
deep into the murky realms
where there is neither light
nor word, where there is only
being held and holding.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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