A full moon on patio stones, and illness flourishes.
Three a.m. Sleeplessness peaks, and illness flourishes.
In not dreaming a kind of wonder, in the sore throat,
the lack of tonsils, to hack all day, all night—an illness flourishes.
Who is not rapt, who uneasy, captive on a mattress.
Trolling spindles while in her head the illness flourishes.
How difficult the breath of a woman without contrition.
She would trade vengeance for a man in whom illness flourishes.
The white moon close to morning opens like an eye.
Over the garden, frost-wrapped violets, like illness, flourish.
To listen as bereavement bubbles up, to take stock.
In all the hours of the clock to feel pain, as illness flourishes.
However brief a lifetime, this night’s become an epic.
Even on the pocked moon, in blades of bamboo, illness flourishes.
At the zenith now, where hours before it hung low, yellow.
Single moon, pale sister, plaster star, an illness flourishing.
How summon calm? How bite off deceitful thoughts?
Imagination stashes weapons and silencers, illness flourishes.
Kalashnikov, Smith and Wesson, and illnesses flourish.
A little chalk on my hands dries sweat. My illness flourishes.
*Originally published in The Ghazal Page.
Judith Skillman’s work has appeared in Shenandoah, Poetry, Zyzzyva, FIELD, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Awards include an Eric Mathieu King Fund grant from the Academy of American Poets. Her collection Kafka’s Shadows is forthcoming from Deerbrook Editions in 2017. Skillman has done collaborative translations from French, Portuguese, and Macedonian. Visit www.judithskillman.com.