Bad News Good News
I was at a camp in the country,
you were home in the city,
and bad news had come to you.
You texted me as I sat
with others around a campfire.
It had been a test you and I
hadn’t taken seriously,
hadn’t worried about.
You texted the bad news word
cancer. I read it in that circle
around the fire. There was
singing and laughter to my right and left
and there was that word on the screen.
I tried to text back but,
as often happened in that county,
my reply would not send, so I went to higher ground.
I stood on a hill above the river and sent you
the most beautiful words I could manage,
put them together, each following each. Under
Ursa Major, Polaris, Cassiopeia, a space station flashing,
I said what had been said
many times, important times, foolish times:
those words soft-bodied humans say when the news is bad.
The I love you we wrap around our
need and hurl at the cosmos: Take this, you heartless
nothing and everything, take this.
I chose words to fling into the dark toward you
while the gray-robed coyote came out of hiding
and the badger wandered the unlit hill
and the lark rested herself in tall grasses;
I sent the most necessary syllables
we have, after all this time the ones we want to hear:
I said Home, I said Love, I said Tomorrow.
by Marjorie Saiser
from I Have Nothing to Say About Fire
The Backwaters Press, 2016