Day After Chemotherapy: I Can’t Eat, So I Make You Breakfast Instead

Kristene Kaye Brown


First Eggs— cracked and emptied.
Yoke slicking the pan
like a pale slip of bird shit
streaking a windshield.
Tor of quiet. Windless sizzle.
I miss the way the sun once unraveled
my hair.
Next, a handful of spinach.
Scent of light. Mushrooms.
Yes, even in the dark
life grows. The mushrooms are proof.
I wait for the edge to bubble.
Attention is a kind of prayer.
I have been told
to do things that are meaningful
for me. The naked garden of your neck
stubbled and rough.
Have I ever told you how much I love
your hands. It’s big work
to take this all in, the sun cornered
in our window, yellow poplar
scraping the pane. Look,
the orange juice is so unbearably orange.
Simple sugar and cream.
You know what I like.
The get well plant haloed
in her watery skirt—a neglected pet
we never touch,
ever. I am becoming skilled at the art
of wasting space, lost
in the banal dazzle of hours.
I wonder if the blueberries ever refuse
their blue.
I am ravished by the sugared fruit
thundered in a white bowl.
What I thought was gratitude
feels more like hunger.
Lungs holding air,
as a mug holds coffee, as gravity
pours dust into the shape of a moon.
My effort is sincere, full.
Here, what I can no longer bear
I give to you.

Return to Fall 2018 Volume 10.1




KRISTENE KAYE BROWN is a mental health social worker. She earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has previously been published, or is forthcoming, in DIAGRAM, Columbia Poetry Review, Harpur Palate, Meridian, Nashville Review, and others. Kristene lives and works in Kansas City.