Hi darling friend, it's me.
I don't know what you've heard . . .
So I'm reluctant . . . to tell you . . .
The cancer is back. . . . It's not good.
I'm sorry to give you this news.
Whatever you're doing today,
Have fun. Look for the orioles.
I hear them everywhere.
I'm at home. Can you come over?
I'd be so happy to see you.
We could sit under the willow,
Listen to the birds and
Have a nice picnic with red wine.
Call me. I love you. Ciao.
The previous message
Is about to expire.
Press seven to erase
Or, press nine to save. You —
In danger everywhere.
Even on a message machine.
If only I could press
A button to save you.
But all I can save is your voice.
Like a nurse sounding the alarm —
Code Blue! Code Blue! Blue! Blue! —
Desperate for help, and
Mourning for you ahead of time,
I press Nine! Nine! Nine! Nine!
Fran Castan, now of Greenport, lived in Springs for many years. Last week this poem, written for the late Siv Cedering of Sagaponack, won the United Kingdom's 2021 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.