This selection, chosen by Guest Leslie Rzeznik, is from This Body I Have Tried to Write by Ja'net Danielo, released by Mayday in 2022.
Content warning for cancer
In my mother’s mouth, refrain becomes restrain & this is not a slip of anything. When I say I loved my father, let the d of past tense slap the back of my teeth, I see the limitations of time, by which I mean our construction of time, by which I mean body, by which I mean mine. When the doctor asks about the cancer, how I handled the news & I say I wasn’t surprised, I mean Tumor, I’ve been waiting for you my whole life. When my mother says restrain, she means refrain & somehow, they are the same—this fast-binding, drawing together of threads over & over. And I know now we are never going back to anything—not even if we found a way to travel faster than the speed of light, like in 2001: A Space Odyssey, which, according to my college physics professor, would catapult us into past. Not even then. The light would be different, bent. So, months after my father’s death, when I tell my husband I feel the devastation of fans when the Beatles broke up & how the pain of no more hollows my gut, knives the bone of my chest, what I mean is I’m never going to see my father again, by which I mean I am never going to again.
Ja’net Danielo is the author of This Body I Have Tried to Write, winner of the MAYDAY 2022 Poetry Micro Chapbook Editors’ Choice Award, and The Song of Our Disappearing (Paper Nautilus, 2021). A recipient of a Professional Artist Fellowship from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the Telluride Institute’s Fischer Prize, her poems have appeared in Frontier Poetry, Mid-American Review, GASHER, Radar Poetry, and elsewhere. Originally from Queens, NY, Ja’net teaches at Cerritos College and lives in Long Beach, CA, where she facilitates Word Women, a free virtual poetry workshop for cancer patients and survivors.
Leslie Rzeznik lives in southeast Michigan. She earned her BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and won The Academy of American Poets prize in 2013. Her work has appeared in Alyss, Bone Bouquet, Sling Magazine, Willawaw Journal, and Bear River Review.
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