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A Child Meets Melanoma

by Colleen S. Harris

Strong hands, now frail, 
cannot even grasp a glass of water
dribble-spills down the front of his gown
I am too small to lift him
and too scared to tell mom
mop up what I can reach,
avoiding his gaze
tuck the blankets tight to keep him warm
riddled with guilt
certain pneumonia will come calling
I can already spell cancer
	look at me learn
I am too young to know this,
I don't want to see how slowly death moves
like an obscene, unwelcome lover
and I try not to fear him, 
I love him!
but I'm afraid he sees how I flinch
when claw-hands reach my way
or that he hears in what I do not say
what he said while he was out of his mind
and I hate myself for hating him 
for falling so low
and I am quite sure
this is how a Catholic child
buys her ticket to hell

Colleen S. Harris grew up on Long Island in New York, but prefers the South. She attended both college and graduate school in Kentucky. Currently an assistant professor and Reference & Instruction Librarian at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, she pursues an MA in English Literature at UT-Chattanooga, her MFA at Spalding University, and a serious tattoo habit. To date, she has been published in Creekwalker and Poetry Midwest.