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by Marcia Davis-Cannon

We're different, we who've had cancer.
We can't saunter through life, unaware.
We confront our mortality early, and often.

Death wakes us in the night,
lodges between us and our partner in bed,
wriggles into the hugs we give our children.

And yet, we can linger 
in the rich, moist earth 
planting a cherry tree 

without knowing
if we'll ever
feast on its flawless fruit,

savoring the sight 
of ugly bald coot chicks
prospecting for bugs in their first swim, 

resplendent red beaks 
and yellow fringe of down 
stark against the mama coot's drab austerity.

red and yellow
stark against the murkiness.

Excerpts from "Stark" originally appeared in A Healing Journey by Sharon Bray.

While writing poetry in Vasona Park in Los Gatos, California, Marcia was struck by the brilliant plumage of the baby coots swimming at her feet, in sharp contrast to their mother's dark feathers. It seemed to her an apt symbol for the valor of cancer patients finding joy in the face of a difficult prognosis.