Ghazal after Illness

Originally posted in PNA Village on

Poem by Marilyn Zuckerman


Don’t worry, Marilyn. Don’t despair.
There will be other days to be alive.

Days when the sun strikes orange autumn leaves to fire,
The sky’s a cloudless blue and your body feels like your old body.

Days standing upon the Headlands, watching
As sea moan and storm spray shake the swimming sky

Or a Sunday at Spy Pond with salsa music in the air,
Burning charcoal, skaters and bicyclists flowing past

While you sit blinking in the sun like a housecat,
And phfft – a great blue heron, neck tucked in, zooms by.


I am pleased to be a contributor to the PNA Village blog as I am a poet and sometime fiction writer. Since my first book was published when I was 50, after raising three children and living an entirely different life than that of “poet”, I believe in second chances. Again, as a poet I believe poems often say it better than the long prose essay. Thus, the poem above. I hope often to share poems when speaking with you, for it is my primary language. I hope you will enjoy them and sometimes take them to your heart.

As for the Ghazal above, it is about an experience we all know (more often than not – I hope) – the breakthrough that lets us back into our old life – after illness or decline – as well as recovering its pleasures and our old power.

It’s Bob Dylan, “Keepin’ On, Keeping On”. It’s Matisse and his “Blue Nudes” cut from paper when he could no longer paint after an illness. It’s about Marie Curie, sick, still going to the laboratory daily. It’s about the poet William Carlos Williams, telling us when struggling to do something difficult and ready to give up, to go on …”as if” you can.

N.B.  Ghazal – a form of Persian poetry