Tuesday 5 May 2020

2 Poems by Roger Sippl

The Sweater

The doctors tell me the main tumor

in my chest is the size of a softball.

She uses a double strand of yarn

and thin knitting needles so the arms and walls

to cover my chest and back will be thick.

There are more in my bronchial system,

my neck, below my diaphragm, and maybe

in my spleen. The sweater will warm me

even in the wind. She had to do Catholic

Penance, a mother’s labor, she repeats

non-stop clicks with yarn, mostly acrylic,

so it can’t be eaten and

will never decay. She says it is her

fault. She should have stopped me from

sneaking onto that stupid golf course at night, swimming

with mosquitoes, diving the black lake for lost balls

through industrial fertilizer and green dyes, as if

she knows what caused my lymph node cancer

when no one else does. She tries to cure me, feels

my forehead, clicks the needles together again

and again until her fingers hurt and wrists ache

and she can hardly stand up from sitting so long.

So I tell her that leaves on trees blow left

then right, some rattle and flip,

some move hardly at all, yet some are first to fall

to the ground. I tell her the sweater

is coming along great as she watches me lose

weight lying in bed. The needles click as she approaches

another threshold of pain that relieves her.


All through each long day

our nightgowns hug each other

on the bedroom hook.

The Sweater was first published in the Ocean State Review in 2016.
 “Everyday” was first published in Smeuse Poetry, a print anthology, in 2017.


Roger Sippl studied creative writing at UC Irvine, UC Berkeley and Stanford Continuing Studies. He’s been published in a few dozen literary journals and anthologies, including the Ocean State Review and the Bacopa Literary Review. Before that he was a pre-med who survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which changed everything.

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