A new dawn brings brighter gray, a deeper chill

and thickening quiet. I untwist myself from blankets

and cross the cold room, step into the warmth

of the shower: breathe in, breathe out.

When I emerge, the bed has been made and the yellow light

of a lamp glows, illuminating my daughter.

She stands and speaks softly, dressed in the soft grey wings

of a poncho, blue knitted booties on her feet.

I open each small canister on the countertop

carefully, measuring out pills and handing them to her

in a small clear cup.

She treasures tiny things as one would hold diamonds, marveling

at their preciousness, asking questions

about how things are made, how things feel, how things are or should be

recalling memories from months ago, people or songs or moments

how everything and everyone seems new to her, even

when she knows they are not.

I gaze in her eyes, watch tears fall from green-blue-gold, her eyelashes

still long and dark, the envy of many nurses. She swallows each pill

with slow, practiced precision, turning to give me

the thumbs up sign.

I look at the tiny hairbrush in the drawer

but don’t pick it up; I want to let the tendrils stay

a while longer. She seems unbothered by it, today choosing

to go without a colorful scarf. But the light has dimmed a bit

from her eyes, the gray of winter weather

seeping into both of us like the heaviness

of rain into earth.

After breakfast, we gather canvas and paints, letting the brushes

bring color into our day, into these steadfast hours

of waiting through the pain. A calm fills the space

where fear sits close behind, a silent shadowed thing

that threatens to take the time we have together

and press it into sorrow.

I pull open the shades in our small room, grateful

for this space we’ve been given

to be in together, mindful of the fear

that follows us. Willing my daughter’s courageous heart

and incredible mind to banish it, allowing hope

in its place.

Outside, the snow blankets the rooftops, the city hushed.

We sit for a while, motionless and watchful, our tears falling noiselessly

as the tree branches glisten, a season of sadness

stretching to meet the sun

at its end.


Stacie Eirich is a mother of two, poet & singer. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Synkroniciti Magazine, Paper Dragon, Cerasus Magazine, Susurrus and The Healing Muse, among others. She is currently living in Memphis, TN, caring for her daughter through cancer treatments at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. www.stacieeirich.com