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July 2014, vol 10, no 2

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Bill Gottlieb

Malignant, Isn’t That It?


Bad. A monster, a beast, a bad being – bad luck! – a black cat big as the night. But maybe you could pet the cat and accept the witch who walks in next, because it’s you, a hag. I look a hundred years old, she said, and she did, hollowed and worn. I accepted it, the feared one, the old one, wounded, its breast torn out, the replacing muscle mangled, and scars from more operations, and cancer now crazing the whole in sore blots of red. I caressed it with oils and ointments, and kissed it, and thanked it for whatever it had needed to do, and told it it could go now, to leave my girl alone so she could live. I loved it. I loved her, her brave body, the ash vanishing in the shallows like stars by day. Have I really been grieving 12 weeks? That can’t be.

every dusk the unseen
neighbor plays taps
how can he know




crane