I remember how Cora said fiercely,
concerned for her daughter,
“Well, her mother has cancer,”
as if it were her failing
instead of affliction.
The family tragedy,
her brother’s malady,
was turning her bones
to cottage cheese.
Her skeleton self-destructed,
but her spirit soared far away
to the Rockies and the Sierras,
to Florence, Paris, and Rome.
“Cora was fun, and I was along
for the ride,” said her husband
of the only non-lawyer
who’d bested him in argument.
She knew how to respond
to a challenge,
ruthlessly rallying her forces
with chemotherapy’s
destructive weapons.
But God had other plans.
And her daughter sat at the shiva
with bent head bearing her grief,
her long legs twisted around each other,
her feet huddled for comfort in fuzzy slippers.