Bad News

Bad news is a basset hound

familiar with your scent.

It always finds you out.

Shut down your cellphone,

close your inbox,

burrow six feet under,

a  mole will deliver the message.

 

It never comes on grim grey days,

it’s always bright blue skies and

dragonflies

hovering above the hydrangeas.

 

I am a child sitting on the stairs,

barely making out

the hushed voices of my parents,

staring  through the bars

at their stunned expressions

as they replace the receiver.

An aunt has been eaten alive by cancer,

a cousin killed by a drunk driver,

an uncle shaken by Parkinson’s.

I cover my ears.

 

The policeman

who shows up at our door

after our son is killed,

has a congenial manner

which belies the news

he is about to spring,

but one glance at his  knotted brow

Tells me our son is dead.

 

It would be a miracle,

the surgeon says,

If your wife’s tumors disappeared.

I pretend I haven’t heard.

 

We find out through an e-mail

that part of Picky’s jaw

has been removed.

We’re informed by text

that David has been shot

while fishing in the park.

 

I want to bury my head

In your breast

so that I cannot see

the bad news oscillating

across the screen

In red and green and blue,

so that I cannot hear

the calm voice of the nurse

asking us to leave.

 

(Originally published in Up the River)

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