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Patricia Cannon

Breaking That Empty Plate in the Sky

East of the Sun, West of the Moon illustration by Kay Nielsen

Valencia Gardens
was a housing project
that hedged in people
with eyes shattered
like busted glass
and voices cold
like crushed ice.

Where a woman
in a torn bathrobe
and multicolored
curlers in her hair
walked her dog
with a leash
clenched in one hand
and a wooden club
in the other.
Saliva dripped
with each insistent pant
from the corners
of its mouth
as it pulled her
slippered feet down
the cemented street.

Where a young man
wearing Ben’s khaki pants
and a white t-shirt with
two sweaty half-moons
stood in the alley.
His face, hardened
like a diamond,
cut through
the glassy-eyed
stares around him.

And where two children
played together on swings.
Their peals of laughter
rose above
the mournful sound
of the swaying chains
as their legs
pushed hard
against the night
because they knew
that their little feet
would someday break
that empty plate in the sky.


About the writer:
Patricia Cannon has been a Registered Nurse at UCSF since 2001. She has worked in cardiac critical care, neuro intensive care, hemeoncology, school nursing, and currently, in research. In the early days of the pandemic, she was redeployed to the CATCH team which stands for the Covid Assessment, Treatment Coordination Hub. This pilot was launched to help patients get much needed procedures and surgeries. Her passion is her faith, photography, and the written word in all its forms. Her poetry has appeared in several magazines and books.

Image: East of the Sun, West of the Moon illustration by Kay Nielsen (1886-1957). Illustration. No medium specified. No size specified. 1914. Public domain.

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