My mother loved words. Not necessarily
in sentences or speeches. Just words.
She read the dictionary like a bedside book.
She taught me words while I watched her
at the crossword puzzle, her relief
from drudgery. And now this
delectable, mouth-filling word
I cannot teach her: metastases,
‘multiple metastases.’ The word
glows a guilty secret through
the large brown envelope lying on
the back seat with the x-rays and
the radiologist’s report. She sits
rigid with pain, too proud to ask
if there is any word of relief.
In the silence between us
you can hear the metastases multiply.

from It Was the Singing (Sandberry Press, 2000), copyright Edward Baugh 2000, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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