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The Optimist


The film showed stars of varying magnitude:

On the right, Libra, and on the left, Cancer,

Mapping the brain's horizons, vanishing points

Respectively of reason and desire.

The doctors liked her cheerful attitude,

Hope being all she had in her position.


She waited, calm.  Touch burned out first, then vision.

Emotion slipped.  Last would be lungs and heart.

But, noting trends, they told her Taste was next.

She asked then, could they pick out her last dress?


She wasn't making light.  It seemed to her

That cancer just rehearsed life's attitude

That one's desires must taper to a point,

Which has position, but no magnitude.


Joshua Mehigan



2000; originally printed in Poetry.  Reprinted by
permission of the author.

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