HEINE ON LEUKEMIA by Virginia Schnurr

We've read the printout

on marrow transplant: "treatment as intensive and battering

as any in clinical medicine."

All evening the conversation focused

on what to offer to the gods

not our firstborn.


My self-medicated dinner guests try aphorisms:

Life is too short to drink less.

One must forgive one's enemies— but not before they've been

hanged.

If you're born to hang, you'll never drown.

So let the big cat jump!

Self-knowledge is always bad news.


As the hostess,

I have nothing to offer.

I clear the dishes. A wiry figure sits on my kitchen counter.

Heine wants my freshest butter, milk, and flowers

and a good bed for the night,

He whispers: "Make small songs out of your great sorrow."


The wine bottles run dry.

We pair off. Dance. Mendelssohn's "Waiting"

lulls Heine to sleep.