Children’s Hospital, Leukemia Ward, by KB Ballentine

“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.”
– Carl Sagan

For the first time this week you sat up,
helped hold the spoon as I guided it
to your gawping mouth. You didn’t turn away.
Smoothing your bare scalp, I thought
about the wilderness trail not far from our house.
How I grasped the rocks, hanging on so I wouldn’t fall.

Outside, blackbirds shadow the pines,
sunlight drifting these shorter days.
Last yellow butterfly spirals the air
above fading hydrangea.

Intermittent thumps down the hall
remind me of our neighbor splitting wood
piling a safeguard against the coming winter.
A train howls through the valley –
someone going somewhere.

Your small body curls around Freddy,
the oversized bear Grampa gave you to sleep with,
to comfort you when I have to leave – to breathe
outside this dying room. To stand as evening comes
and watch the stars flicker, disappear.

KB Ballentine has a M.A. in Writing and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and publications, including Alehouse, Tidal Basin Review, Interrobang?!, and Touchstone. In 2006, she was a finalist for the Joy Harjo Poetry Award and was awarded the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize in 2006 and 2007. Fragments of Light (2009) and Gathering Stones (2008) were published by Celtic Cat Publishing. In 2011, two anthologies published her work: Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets and A Tapestry of Voices. Her third collection, What Comes of Waiting, won the 2013 Blue Light Press Book Award.
KB Ballentine pic

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