In Sickness and in Health- Cancer






What I hate most is the moment

The doctor turns to you and says, rather sorrowfully,

“There’s a small problem,”

The moment when your body doesn’t belong to you.

You nod, appearing to listen carefully,

However there is a churning inside you louder than any small part

Of Niagara Falls and you can’t hear what she is saying.

Maybe if you make her words into scrabble letters, hard and square

You could jump on her quickly while the door is still closed

And force them back inside her mouth,

Hold her nose and sit on her chest

Rumpling her white coat

Until she opens her mouth and agrees to swallow.

Make her the one with the small problem.


She appears not to notice when you begin to cry.

You have to ask for Kleenex.

What you would really like is for her to be older and more sympathetic.

You would like her to offer you tea which she would have ready behind her desk

On an old lace doily her grandmother made.

She pours the tea, takes your hand, and tells you no matter what

She will take care of you. That you will survive.

There will be no fear in her voice when she says this.

Nor will she look at her watch.

You will sip the tea together

And you will gather your things and leave.

When you go to sleep you will dream of one stone on one beach in Maine.

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