3rd Place - June 2012

Treading Water

They say Cystic Fibrosis is like drowning
on the inside.

I say it's like having a fat cat
asleep on your chest.
It's a quiet pressing down,
like the snow outside:

You write, "I'm thinking about you,
imagining your lungs twin bellows
filled with light."

I say they're sputtering whoopee cushions
and the joke's getting old.

We both agree that "Bronchi ecstasy"
sounds sexier than Bronchiectasis.
"Deterioration of lung tissue"
isn't sexy at all.

"Good God, I want to kiss you," you say
as I pull my sweater off slowly
on Skype. We singe phone lines.

Sometimes the vast, black ocean
laps at my body from all sides,
laughing. They say drowning is euphoric.

You email me opera arias,

promise we'll visit Ireland, Scotland,
Antares-the supergiant star
in the Milky Way.

I grip the phone as though it were a lifeboat.
I ride your waves, rising
to the surface.

~ Christine Schrum