Friday, April 23, 2010

Cancer in Three Acts

I.  Bone Marrow Biopsy

breathe in

breathe out

hands gently stroke my arm
the delicate touch, the extra soft touch
can only mean the pain will
be that much harder to bear

breathe in
breathe out


hands on either side
gentle, gentle. . .
the needle makes its descent

searing pain,
searing fucking pain

breathe in,

breathe in,

steely gaze,
stay focused,

breathe out.

II.  Chemo and Remission

The heat that hairless summer, child,
I was damn near close to death -
breathe in, barely a breath out;
salty rivulets slinking across my pate,
as I struggled to make that hill. 

Chemically driven, almost unnaturally still,
I could sit for hours upon hours at a time,
occasionally wondering if I would see any
of this again in the coming year,
too lethargic to care enough to cry.

The slight breeze might pass over me,
and if I felt it, it didn't register any change. 
Mosquitoes stayed clear, perhaps possessing
some fear of the poisons that lie beneath my skin.

The irony of remission
is the celebration around you
when you feel mostly dead.
They tell you that you beat it,
when, really, you just feel beaten down.

III.  Later 

She said,
'that pain in your back,
it's not what you think'
and since I wasn't really
thinking much of anything
other than what the hell
did I do to it,
I simply said, 'yeah.'

When you've had any
great illness, had anything
more than slightly serious
they always assume
it's in the back of your mind,
like you've already set a place
and are thinking there will
be a guest for dinner.
And I wasn't.

But now
I'm wondering.

Although, like a friend
that's moved far away who
took all your attention while
they were here – you might be
a bit richer for the experience
but in no hurry to repeat it and
certainly don't anticipate their 
subtle move back to town.

You know
I've been there, 
and yeah, I could do it again – 
harder and stronger, ready to face
whatever comes this way, 
but I'm not laying out the mat 
or cooking dinner.

Hell, my good plates 
have long been packed away.
You show up at my door
unannounced, uninvited,
you'll get fast food 
on paper plates and like it 
and soon be on your way.

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