Issue 27 | Winter 2021


Ally tells me her husband is adjusting,
that they all are, that the diagnosis
is for the right kind of cancer, if that
makes sense, and they’re trying

to stay positive. This being his third
round of chemo, they have no illusions.
Two days on, they trust he’ll feel
the poison. It’s like with lightning,

she says, the one-a-thousand, two-a-
thousand before the thunder cracks.
After the first treatment, she couldn’t believe
how good he seemed. Back from the clinic,

he’d cut the lawn, fixed the porch step,
told her he felt alive in a way he hadn’t
since the tests. Or even before then,
she admits, those long weeks she’d spent

tiptoeing past his symptoms, avoiding
all but the most routine conversations,
lest the whisper of her suspicions
set this avalanche in motion.

Filed under: Poetry

David O’Connell’s work has appeared in New Ohio Review, The Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, Sugar House, and North American Review, among other journals. His first full-length collection, Our Best Defense, is forthcoming in 2021 from Červená Barva Press. More of his work can be found at