LUCKY By Abby Caplin


This morning a small moth got caught up
in my hands, its body leaving a smudge
of brown powder on the wrinkled bedsheet

I was slapping out, the way you
taught me. I’m lucky, born twelve
years after your cousins worked

a Lithuanian forest with shovels, gunshot-
tumbled into the pit, earth moving for days
with those still alive, like restless

children beneath a blanket. I’m sixty-five,
two years older than you when you had
your surgery— tubes draining yellow fluid

from your belly, the raw meaty gap
of your gauze-packed incision.
Nurses changed port dressings,

IV tubing, infusions, bile-filled
ileostomy bags, and your night nurse
rocked you in bed as you begged

for your mother, cowering from dog-sized
insects on the ceiling. I get it now.
Already the California sky has turned

an orange I’ve never seen before,
and that marvelous idea you loved to tell
your civics students about is cracking and falling

sideways, like those sand towers we once
carefully slid from paper cups, guarding them
from breakers, until we couldn’t.

By Abby Caplin


Abby Caplin’s poems have appeared in AGNI, Catamaran, Love’s Executive Order, Manhattanville Review, Midwest Quarterly, Salt Hill, TSR: The Southampton Review, Tikkun, and elsewhere. Among her awards, she has been a finalist for the Rash Award in Poetry, semi-finalist for the Willow Run Poetry Book Award, finalist for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award, and a winner of the San Francisco Poets Eleven. She is a physician and practices mind-body medicine in San Francisco.

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