“Napping after Cancer,” a Poem by Dan O’Brien

feels dangerous, and almost nothing like traveling to Saint-Rémy when my wife was expecting and beginning to show, her morning sickness lifting, to pass through Roman arches and chrome-yellow wheat fields beneath desiccated cypresses lining trails pocked with irises and blue mulberries where van Gogh painted through barred windows (omitting said bars), and eschewing the guided tour we indulged ourselves instead in the market square gorging on cheeses so slender the two of us even her despite her bulge; then zigzagging downhill into the grand allées between colonnades of sighing plane trees stretching in the straightaway across for the intimation murmuring from her body to mine: our child tumble-turning inside. How could we know what was waiting for us just around the bend? In the afternoon we pulled over to rest our eyes drowsy from the drive in a gravelly rest stop, shoulder to shoulder like effigies with our seats reclined and the windows wide, dandelions unfurling in a breeze.

Image courtesy of the author.


Excerpted from Survivor’s Notebook. Used with permission of the publisher, Acre Books. Copyright 2023 © by Dan O’Brien.

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