To a Friend

If I were a leaf-cutter ant,

I’d gnaw at your illness

and with my helpers

carry it piece by piece

across the road.

 

If I were a giant whale shark

I’d let you cling like a remora

to my great white belly

and glide away to verdant lands

where death remains unknown.

 

If I were a hummingbird

I’d hover by your side

drawing prayers from your lips

and planting them in apothecary gardens

to make you well again.

 

But I am none of these

and can only sit and wait,

marveling at your courage

admiring your quiet strength

as your head droops like

a thirsty peony

and your arms hang down

like willows in the rain.

 

(Originally published in Poetry Quarterly)

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