by Elizabeth Koopman
Wild Poetry Forum
Second Place, April 2022
Judged by M.B. McLatchey

Foul beast stalks
my sister, low to the ground,
round in circles,
filthy matted fur –

darted in, years ago,
tore off a piece
with slimy fangs
slunk off then
hid for years
too close to see

coward beast
ravenous beast
nipping inside
bite bite bite
til now
it devours

Wallace Stevens said, “Poetry is the priest of the invisible.” This poem makes cancer visible. The Grendel-like beast that stalks a loved one and that “slunk off/then hid for years/too close to see” is what most of us know as remission, then recurrence – but what this poem unveils as the internalized monster that cancer is: a “coward beast/ ravenous beast”. As in the more accomplished of poems, this poem’s masterful imaging of a slow death – “bite, bite, bite” – in fact, champions life. It chooses art over surrender. --M.B. McLatchey