The Moon Wanes After Chemotherapy

My mother used to tell me there was a man

       in that face. God of drunkards, she’d say,

a dark Cain, wandering the earth

     to pay his penance. Man in the moon—

his shadow-pocked cheek, the shape

     a whisper takes in winter as it thins

and disappears. In a few days,

     there will be nothing—a black silence

in the sky. Stars huddling

     without lantern in the night.

My husband is curled asleep

     on the couch. His hair, completely

gone now, only one eyelash clings

     to its lid. I watch it flicker as he exhales—

a stubborn dance above the cratered

     jaw. What penance does he owe?

This body, a sliver in our dark room.

     One I have loved, nightly slipping away from me.

Chelsea Krieg is a writer and educator from southeastern Virginia. Her work may be found in Greensboro Review, Poet Lore, Bellevue Literary Review, The McNeese Review, Medical Literary Messenger, and elsewhere. She currently teaches writing at North Carolina State University where she also received her MFA in poetry.