My father prays for children who aren’t so smart
and emails to let us know we are: too smart
for Jesus—God!—too smart for love.
Ever since the seizure, the cloudy x-ray
clipped to the light box, ever since the surgery
(not as successful as we had hoped),
and the chemo—twenty-one days on,
seven off—he wants:
a wedding, a grandchild,
a second drink—three
fingers of bourbon on ice.
his mother calls from her hospital bed,
thinks she’s in Augusta, that her dog
has run away,
and I want to tell him
that his brain’s a thoughtful organ
to eat itself before time can. But I have
his shoulders—round and tilted to the wind—
his golf ball cheekbones, furrowed brow.
What else? I swear, I feel my own hard tumor
growing slow against my temple. Today, I thought
I was going blind. Tomorrow, I might pray.
But if I say Thank God, I mean Don’t let us die;
if I say I love, I mean Save me.
Anna B. Sutton is a poet and painter from Nashville, TN. She received her MFA from UNC Wilmington and a James Merrill Fellowship from Vermont Studio Center. She’s worked for a number of literary organizations, including Blair Publisher, Lookout Books, One Pause Poetry, The Porch Writers’ Collective, Dialogist, Gigantic Sequins, and Ecotone. She currently lives in Winston Salem, NC, and works at UNC School of the Arts. Find more about me on my website (annabsutton.com) and via Twitter (@annabsutton).