Poem 294 ± March 24, 2016

Nancy Cook

Myron needs to be taking meds.
Or, if he’s already taking meds,
he needs to stop.
Myron is talking.
He is always talking.
He doesn’t miss a beat.
You could say,
he doesn’t miss a thing:
the page 8 news, the most
recent Guy Kawasaki blog, how
Solar City shares are trending,
what’s coming to the Met, odds
on any Sixers’ game. He picks up
every signal. He notices…well,
everything, you could say.
You could say.

But I must say he takes note
of nothing, really. Not one
thing. Like how that cloud,
that stunningly white
cumulus cloud, is rimmed
with gray. The skittery spray
from the sky-high falls
we can’t yet glimpse ahead.
The dip in the silent pool
ten yards to our left where
a fallen fern is settling in.
Air that threads a density
of green heat, to make a breeze
smaller than a whistle.
Not even the amber gloss
of bare shoulders—mine—
lightly pinked by exertion.

Here are we, in steep ascent
above Hawaii’s coast, deep
into the trail, the surf
a distant, steady throb,
and Myron is talking,
not missing a beat.

The two o’clock sun sharpens
its penetration and still
Myron doesn’t notice, he
does not see or listen,
doesn’t sense a thing and
for no reason at all
I think of Susan, our friend,
Susan, undergoing
radiation treatments
back on the mainland.
I think of Susan while I
am here, with Myron, hiking
the Na Pali coastline,
and he and I are noticing
and not noticing
all the world around us.


Nancy CookSt. Paul writer Nancy Cook is a Minnesota State Arts Board grantee and the 2015 recipient of the Lillian E Smith writer-in-service award. Last fall she completed a residency on the grounds of the former state mental hospital in Fergus Falls and is currently writing a book of short stories based on the experience. Nancy also runs the Witness Project, a series of free community writing workshops on Minneapolis’s Northside.

This poem is not previously published.