Irene Fick’s poetry has been published in Philadelphia Stories; Adanna Literary Journal; The Broadkill Review; The Avocet; Third Wednesday; and No Place Like Here: An Anthology of Southern Delaware Poetry & Prose. A former journalist, her nonfiction has been published in newspapers and magazines in Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco. She is active in the Rehoboth Art League writers’ group and the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild. She lives in Lewes, Delaware.
The Dark Always Finds Us
Sick and solitary all week, I brood, breathe
my own sullied air. I rage against
this sudden collapse of the ordinary self.
My thoughts swell with fear and remembrance,
and I sink into an uneasy darkness. I stagger
back to old Flatbush, return to my legacy
of ache, my tight and tender family bound
by their frailties. I see Uncle Rocco wheeze
through his inhaler, Cousin Fannie cradle her gut.
I hear Grandpa’s cough echo through the walls
of his walk-up. Years later, Mom succumbs,
muted and still in her oxygen mask. Even Dad!
Big, boisterous, invincible Dad, shrinks,
recedes into his coma. Just then, I hear
the loose and loopy laugh of bold Aunt Grace,
who tried so hard to escape, moved away
to some godforsaken place west
of Jersey City, a town no one could recall
or find on the map. Grace was not old
when she died during the shift change
at a high-rise hospital, miles from home.
What kind of cancer did she have? I asked
Aunt Marie. Cansuh,it was just cansuh!
she snapped. No one could tell me more.
But I knew. I try to ignore, even defeat,
this familial curse, but each time the blood work
goes awry, each time a random pain curtails me,
each time fever takes root, I sigh,
bow my head. And I wait.