The women in my family have always known things,
things we couldn’t know, but did. Never sure if it’s a
blessing or a curse to hold in our bones, our blood.
It’s made us an anxious lot, nail-biters, hand-wringers,
sign-watchers, pattern-seekers holding our breath in
threes, knowing the other shoe is about to drop.
That day we friends gathered on our screens, the cursed
pandemic finally on the run, you sat radiant in your new
house, wine glasses glinting in the lighted cabinet behind
you, and said you were settling in, had lots of mowing to
do, weeds to kill, had to get out the Roundup. We gasped,
your non-farm-raised friends, at the danger your words
sprayed into the fragile air. You saw our faces, heard our
tentative warnings and scoffed, “It doesn’t cause cancer!”
I felt the jolt then, the world sway, your certainty a
concentrated taunt, glove thrown down, a dare sent out
into the universe and I wanted to beg you to suck the words
back, rewind the smiling moment, but, of course what was
done was done. You have a port now, and though insurance
has caused inexplicable delays, you are on a road leading
to the coast where you will float in a new chemical stew.
I doubt there is sea glass there. The horizon cloudy.
It’s not the new life you imagined next to the tall white
lighthouse, your single kayak launching into blue waves.
Your friends gather around you again. There are flowers,
few weeds, and those only in our troubled thoughts, lumps
lodged in our throats rivaled only by the one planted
hard in your breast. The doctors get out their blades,
spades for digging it out. Surgery, radiation, chemicals: a
rounded, yet targeted, approach they say, one any farm girl
used to plows, and sun, and spray can appreciate, but that
wasn’t supposed to be your life now. Sometimes, what’s
in our bones and blood has a mind of its own, a plan too
vast or intricate for us to see. But I will watch for signs, my
friend, maps, clues for what’s to come. Does the lighthouse
still send out its homing beams? I pray you circle back,
round up the strength you need, uproot what grows