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Since 1996 Volume XXI

Marjorie Saiser

Marjorie Saiserís most recent book is a novel in poems, Losing the Ring in the River (University of New Mexico Press, 2013), telling the story of three generations on the Great Plains. Saiserís poems are in Rattle, Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Field, burntdistrict, and on her website poetmarge.com.

Bad News Good News

I was at a camp in the country,
you were home in the city,
and bad news had come to you.

You texted me as I sat
with others around a campfire.
It had been a test you and I

hadnít taken seriously,
hadnít worried about. 
You texted the bad news word

cancer. I read it in that circle
around the fire. There was
singing and laughter to my right and left

and there was that word on the small screen
I held in my hand. I tried to text back but,
as often happened in that country,

my reply would not send, so I went to higher ground.
I stood on a hill above the Keya Paha; I sent you
the most beautiful words I could manage,

put them together, each following each. Under
Ursa Major, Polaris, Cassiopeia, a space station flashing,
I said what had been said

many times, important times, foolish times:
the words soft-bodied humans say when the news is bad,
when time is fleeting. The I love you we wrap around our

need and hurl at the cosmos: Take this, you heartless
nothing and everything, take this.
I chose words to fling into the dark toward you

while the gray-robed coyote prepared to sing from his burrow
and the badger wandered his unlit hill
and the lark rested herself in tall grasses;

I sent the most necessary syllables
we have, after all this time the ones we want to hear:
I said Home, I said Love, I said Tomorrow.



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