Bed 1: empty. Bed 2: a woman
relieved by the emptiness.
She’s not innocent like the rounded
faces of children on cancer posters.
She takes pride in the portrait others paint
of her: sedulous, steadfast, stoic.
The empty visitor’s chair
maintains a heroic posture.
From the portable CD player, a violin
virtuoso plays Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 3,
the dark key of D minor weighty and dramatic,
a mood of barely contained wildness.
Like a stiff wind, doctors enter and pierce the soft,
pulpy cushion around her spine.
The muscles of memory flex quickly,
assume a chronic childhood posture—
Nothing will make her cry.
The infusion drifts through her veins.
In Brahms’s embrace she sinks below the surface of the light.