Marc Swan lives in coastal Maine with his wife Dd, an artist, clothing designer and maker. Poems recently published in Stonecoast Review, Little Something Press, New Verse News, among others. His latest collection, today can take your breath away, was published by Sheila-na-gig Editions in 2018.
A Waiting Room Story
In a tiny flat in downtown Asunción
a US diplomat on a green couch
in front of a 24-inch TV watches
CNN World News, beside her
a bowl of popcorn buttered
fresh from the microwave.
She sips a cool drink, eats small
handfuls as the news flashes
from one nation’s strife to another.
She feels the crunch from a hard
kernel then salty taste of warm blood.
A few days later the scrape
on her tongue still bleeds
which leads her to a medical center,
an emergency air lift to DC
for surgery on to Portland Maine
near family for chemo, five weeks
of radiation. I hear her story
in the waiting room where she sits,
head angled toward the overhead TV,
surgical mask covers her mouth, nose,
dark eyes glassy, neck an angry red
from multiple incisions. Her words
falter, voice low. On her last
day of treatment she holds out her hand.
“Good luck,” I think she says.
End of the Season
Leaves have fallen, no snow yet
but predicted later today. Wind picks
up as I walk down the rutted road
to the bay. In the small dirt lot
a white Volvo station wagon, an older
couple wrapped up in conversation.
They don’t look my way as I pass by.
On the rear bumper and window—
create the world you want to live in,
Give Peace a Chance. Ahead of me
a shell fishermen knee deep in muck,
waders caked with brown ooze, pulling
a small water sled with a basket of clams.
I remember those days in high rubber boots
out of the kayak in Barnstable Harbor,
low tide, small islands jutting up, raking
through slick humps for little necks,
steamers. I start my half mile trek home
passing the Volvo. They are quiet now—
like the decision has been made. I think
of a piece in the Press Herald, a couple
up the coast, seventy five, seventy-seven,
on their bed, hands held, watching waves
ebb and flow, waiting for the bourbon
and barbiturates to kick in.