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Cary Waterman is the author of five books of poems. Her last book, Book of Fire, was a finalist for the Midwest Book Award. Her poems are included in the anthologies Poets Against the War, To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-territorial Days to the Present and Where One Song Ends, Another Begins: 150 Years of Minnesota Poetry. She has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Bush Foundation and has had residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland. She currently teaches in the low-residency MFA Program at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.
Whiteness
By Cary Waterman



Hydrangea blossoms on the lawn  a woman 
wears the big pink cancer hat        the sky 

blesses us with a confection of white truth: 
clouds are not white        not breath and mallow 

but a liquid family like white chalk cliffs 
don’t try to follow     to make sense


of cancer      a woman’s head picked bald
and think of what neighbors did to starving girls 

who let German officers feed them    dancing and sex
their heads shaved in the town square 

under a blue like this one      into which a few clouds
come like a frequency from a far-away car

imagine    someone else’s life 
or the window’s blue mouth

there is no scream you can’t hear   lilac scream
punching holes in the fabric of years

the metal tack holding   all together
doppler of clouds     like the woman 


losing her hair        one strand at a time 
on her pillow    her clothes her winged shoulders

in the shower     each strand falling through
a thought of leaving     and cleaving.