The Photo

By Doug Van Hooser

thirty years later the photo stares out
captured in memory’s spider perfect web
the message    a whisper     something
not to be said     a silent sting in
a field of daffodils     a chorus
sings from the winter battled
a small girl kneels in the trumpets of
spring’s triumph     shrouded in pink
hair shorn like a religious edict

relapse     round two for chemo’s chalice
the gently waved black strands a sacrifice
after a year’s growth     better to lose half

an identity at once and let the rest fall
away slowly     at least for mom     a
lesson from the first round of steroid swelling
poison puking alopecia
there’s a smile that accepts instruction
at five and father says it     a trust the bees
won’t sting like the needles     taps
aspirations     the medicine
a backdrop of barren oaks stretch out
their limbs to catch    but they are rigid
frozen     unforgiving     waiting the surge
of green      the happy chatter of wind in leaves


Doug Van Hooser is a playwright active at Three Cat Productions in Chicago and Chicago Dramatists Theatre. His poetry can be found in Black Fox Literary Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Chariton Review, Gravel, and Stoneboat Literary Journal among other publications. His fiction has appeared in Crack the Spine, Red Earth Review, and The Riding Light Review.