How Fast it Grows by Bill Glose

In the photo sleeves of our album,
Virginia’s Blue Ridge carves

a slump-shouldered outline
against a cerulean sky.

Redbuds sprout from cracks
between stone, and a boulder

worn down by rivulets
wears the face of a wizened man.

On the last pages, kudzu spirals up
train trestles and blackjack oaks,

strangling, smothering,
swallowing mountainsides whole.

Amazing, my girlfriend had said,
how fast it grows, snapping pictures,

seeing beauty in green blankets,
not choking death that lay beneath.

Even when kudzu’s vines are shorn,
its pods can lay dormant underground,

rising up years later to re-infest.
Like cancer, is what we both think now

but dare not say, as she closes the book,
burying her face in the crook of my shoulder.

Bill Glose is a former paratrooper and combat platoon leader. The author of four poetry collections, Glose was named the Daily Press Poet Laureate in 2011 and featured by NPR on The Writer’s Almanac in 2017. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The Missouri Review, Rattle, The Sun, Narrative Magazine, and Poet Lore. His current work reflects upon the panic- and dread-filled months after his girlfriend was diagnosed with lung cancer.