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     C. Dale Young


But it is late afternoon on the platform, the sun

preparing to set while flurries drift in miniature storms

and the evergreens mimic the sound of rain

as the wind stirs them. The scene is just a scene.


We know not if the man is there to meet someone

or is departing on a coming train. I see this the way

one remembers a film, but it is actually an amalgam

of books I have read. Coming or going, the sad platform


stands ready to move the narrative forward. I thought

of this as I sat in my car in the garage of the famous hospital.

I did not know if I was coming or going. There was no snow

but I was frozen, as they say, incapable of moving.


I sat there and realized I was crying. I felt I was watching

myself and then I began bawling. All of my adult life

I had cared for people with cancer, and the irony that I

was now going to die of it was immense.


For over an hour, the words of the neurosurgeon replayed

in my head: unresectable, poor location, too dangerous

to biopsy, glioma, unlikely to make it to next scan,

take care of affairs. The one thing I did not hear? “I’m sorry.”


It matters little that four months later it would be diagnosed

as scar tissue. I had no crystal ball, no way to predict that.

Death had found me after all. When the garage attendant

stopped and saw me in tears, he handed me tissues


and said little. I needed to be home but could not move.

I needed the snow to drift and the evergreens to tell me

what to do. For a moment, the sound of the streetcar

was the train coming, the train that would reveal my story.

C. Dale Young practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. The author of five collections of poetry and a novel, his Building the Perfect Animal: New and Selected Poems will be published by Four Way Books in Spring 2025. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, he lives in San Francisco.

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