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Passage to Valhalla

It's been a year and a half since I lost one of my two best friends to breast cancer. Although she managed to live 10-years after diagnosis with incredible strength (she never allowed those of us around her to voice negativity), the cancer spread to her pancreas and liver. I think of her often, and when she "visits," it's usually when I am in the half-way time, before sleep. I saw her last night... in my drifting, and the sight of her was so vivid, I needed to record my feelings in a poem.

Passage to Valhalla (For E.L.)

She is disappeared
gone thin to grace.
Her smile her laugh her body
the expectations
broken apart
splintered by time.

Once she visited
French cathedrals
strong pilgrim with brown thighs
her feet flat against marble,
crusader of the feminine divine.

She hiked easily
ignoring doubt,
hands flat against warm stone,
garnet cross touching
the sparkling fertile orb of the black madonna.

Did we follow,
tripping and useless
to stop her
own flesh frozen in the lab,
disease hibernating in her womb?

She had no idea she would die.
We circled her bed,
suns and moons
surrounding the planet of her consciousness.

And when we had to,
we dipped white cloth in warm water
and sponged her cherished face
the whispers and faint traces,
remnants of our time together.