I want to speak of winter in the midst of summer,
the first freeze of autumn, sunlight’s jeweling glance
here there gone, silence penetrating

human hubbub, brassy music, lugubrious waltzes—
that tiny blue flame in the stove can’t warm me
any longer. Last night I dreamed a mouse nested

under loose bark, a seep of termites lapping close
to the blind brood. Every wounded soldier can say
the fragment of metal bore his name. The dancer’s

fall comes from a subtler angle, a dust grain
shaken from the ceiling, a speck in the mirror
that distracts as she whirls en point, intent

as a dervish, a photon…and then she’s out.
This is the year the oil line blows in the Gulf and the doctor says
cancer, and I learn to repeat it like all the others, my cancer

my name on the pathology slide, cluster of cells
hiving for spring—believing they will live forever…
But I dreamed this morning, dreamed the healers swimming

in from the sea sockeye salmon leaping ladders of my bloodstream,
snow falling, falling over their hungry backs…

Kokanee Salmon

I began this poem in 2010, the year I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, a devastation which followed quickly upon losing my home of many long years, and then my balance. I returned to my meditation practice, turning it into long periods of visualization in which snow began falling through me and salmon streamed through me eating up the red (estrogen positive) and black (estrogen negative) cancer cells in my right breast, where the tumor had spread into the surrounding skin. Early in 2013 I had a simple mastectomy. It took me more than a year to recover from the after-effects on my over-active immune and nervous systems. But since, I have gone past mere recovery to more abundant health than before the cancer and surgery. All these experiences were accompanied by dreams, from a prodromal (predictive) dream in 2000, to a dream recommending surgery. And all along, the healers, snow and salmon, especially, brought me through to where I am now— more balanced and alive than any time in my life— about to have my seventieth birthday.

About the Author

Maia lives in Isla Vista, CA, site of the recent slaughter of several students by another who then killed himself, AND home of the breathtakingly peaceable beauty of the sea, bluffs, trees, bird sanctuary, and open fields. She has been writing since she was a child and plans to be holding a pen on her deathbed. Her work has appeared in more than 60 journals. In 2012 she published a book of poems, The SpiritLife of Birds, by Adder’s Tongue Press. An eco-feminist speculative novel, See You In My Dreams, will be published sometime in 2015.

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