THE MALIGNANCY OF STARS
Two hours to any sort of daylight,
yet a neighbor watches his wall-width screen.
A garbage truck makes just two stops along
our cul-de-sac street; the paper boy creeps
in his chuffing car. Beyond my neighbor’s,
an ambulance has been parked an hour
at the seniors complex where three friends live.
I figure the odds and drop to the floor
for the sit-ups and pushups that follow
coffee. Consider this, I tell myself.
And I settle upon the belief in
the malignancy of stars, how bodies
may be selected from a great distance
for diseases. My oral surgeon, just before
my last appointment, has been felled
by a cancer so rare his specialist
had never seen one. Yesterday, I learned
his practice is closed. The receptionist
promised to send my records once I sign
a waiver—X-rays before and after
surgery, additional ones to probe
serious complications. When I walk
to the newspaper, I am close enough
to make out what’s on, a woman speaking
from a bare stage, her gestures emphatic
and earnest. The camera finds women
in the audience whose faces are rapt
with belief in whatever has been said.
And though the power of any star but
ours is as implausible as faith,
the morning whispers attrition, the squalls
of constellations pass patiently low.
Gary Fincke’s latest books are Bringing Back the Bones: New and Selected Poems, published by Stephen F. Austin in 2016, and The Killer’s Dog, winner of the Elixir Press Fiction Prize, in 2017.