How the Beautiful Changes
by Meryl Stratford

You lie in bed sleeping,
             not going anywhere.
I look at my book,
             not reading.
You wake and speak
             but I do not understand.
I see
             but I do not believe.
Outside are hibiscus,
             The poetry workshop
goes on as planned,
             words and
words about words.
             Each time I visit
the silence grows louder.
             The television stares at us
with one blind eye.
             After the radiation
and the chemotherapy,
             after the second opinion,
the word for today is
I scribble words
             in my book.
On the cover
             a bright skiff
crosses green water
             to a tropical island.
We were there.
             Now I am this silence beside you,
watching you sleep.
             When I leave,
you look like a frightened child.
             I leave and return.
I leave
             three kisses on your lips,
three secrets to take with you.
             when you go.