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When the Saints

She paid healers south
of the border. Burned incense
of resistance. Finally allowed
the infusion of modern poison
in a fatal attempt to out-poison
her own rebel blood.
Today the cottage is in disarray.
Out over water, silver
paves the way for angels who swim
like drowning sailors
above the pain. Those who think
dying is easy have never
been young. Her family
has come although she continues
to murmur I am cured
I am cured. They take
turns at the bedside, a foul
altar. Except one granddaughter
who, at eleven, has the wise
fear never to enter
the room. She stands
at the threshold. Plays "Amazing
Grace" and "When the Saints
Go Marching In" on her
grade-school trumpet. Notes
on the verge of perfect. Some
completely wrong. Most
so sweet they heal
the way breath comes to terms
with time.

published in Snapdragon Journal, Winter 2020

Joanne Clarkson's fifth poetry collection, "The Fates," won Bright Hill Press' annual contest and was published in 2017. Besides being a poet, Clarkson's vocation includes being a Registered Nurse specializing in Hospice Care.

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