The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 3, 2002
27 x 9.5 x 4.5 inches
During my mother's recovery and radiation therapy for throat cancer, I had various images and thoughts that came together into the poem, Summer's Voice. I then expanded upon the poem's images and thoughts in the ceramic piece. There is a feeling of instrument, plant, body, microscope, music, and sound in the ceramic piece. The leaves I used are from the Nicotiana plant. I felt a working out of my own sadness and anger. It allowed me a place for creativity and input in a situation in which I felt I had little, if any, control.
- My Mother started smoking after I was born.
- When she was young she sang for gatherings and clubs.
- She sang songs from operettas in a delicate soprano.
- As a child, I listened to a recording she had made,
- 'Themes from Hansel and Gretel.'
- I go out into the woods now, without my crumbs.
- In August the sunny paths are crowded with grasshoppers
- and damselflies.
- They spread their moth wings as I step among the trees.
- Leaves beyond count whisper of 10,000 things infinitely
- pulsing forward.
- A canopy, lacy with the feasts of beetle and worm, makes patterns of the light.
- I listen to the cicada's whirring.
- Four years in the earth, they sing for a week, and mate,
- and die.
- This voice, this life transforms, disappearing,
- The doctors removed the cancer from my mother's throat
- this summer.
- They also took her voice.
- I remember the butterflies of childhood: The monarchs,
- the swallowtails, the mourning cloaks.
- A blue-black butterfly, now poised on a leaf, reminds me
- that music is made of silence too.
- It is made of color, light, and things unspoken.
- Some days it is all wrong, and the words fall in all the
- false places.
- Yet this riot of life continues to call out quietly,
- and then like the summer is gone.