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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Jane Yolen is primarily known for her juvenile/young adult fantasy novels, but she has written or edited several books of poems for children. Her The Radiation Sonnets, a chronicle that I discovered through this NPR interview on the poems and her husband's treatment for an inoperable brain tumor, are a real departure for her in many ways, some of which you can find in the NPR interview and some in the foreword and afterword to the book. I had a hard time choosing a poem from the book, partly because it was my first wife's brain tumor and its sequelae which led, 14 years ago last Monday, to the loss of my daughter, who turned 20 last Saturday. This time of year is always difficult for me. So, for my daughter Lee, and for Nancy, my first wife, and for my mother, who nursed my father through vascular dementia, and, most of all, for my wife Deana, who will likely one day care for her 10 years older husband and whom I love more than my own breath,

A Daughter's Visit

She has your nose, she has your chin,
She has my eyes, my hair.
So if you lose, I still can win
And keep you close and near.
I stare at her, she stares at you
When sleep, that smaller death,
Corrupts your face and takes you to
A world without a breath.
She and I, we breathe as one,
Cadencing the future count.
She's my blood, and she's my bone,
Measuring each small amount
As if we'd breath enough to share
To give you, love, along with care.


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