When I thought I might die,
not eventually, but very
soon, I treated me more kindly,

as if I were my own child,
the girl I was, and the woman
I am, all melded

into a body worth
nurturing. Like a gentle
mother I opened my arms,

sat in my own lap
for hours. I spoiled
me, moment
by generous moment.


Cheryl Byler Keeler lives in a shabby Victorian farmhouse, grows heirloom vegetables and writes poems that arrive line by line. Some of them have been shared in International Psychoanalysis, The Mom Egg, Hospital Drive, BODY, Courtship of Winds and Blue Heron Review. She has an MEd in early childhood and an MFA in poetry, but has spent most of her working life managing a branch public library in the small town where she lives.


About the Poem

“This poem was written after my breast cancer treatments in 2001. In our action-oriented culture, where we tend to believe we can solve things by following a formula such as eating right, exercising, etc., it is easy to blame yourself when a serious health issue arises in your life. I had to move through blame into healing.”


8 thoughts on “Healing”

  1. About six months ago, my wife of almost 50 years suffered a rather serious stroke and although she is receiving appropriate therapy, I am too often frustrated by the slow pace of her recovery. Your beautiful poem is a gentle reminder for me to be more patient and to cherish what is positive in the present. Thank you

  2. Taking care of ourselves ..
    Easy to not give a dose of regularly
    In times of need ..

    Super poem! Thank you

  3. Henry Schneiderman

    I love this poem. It has such a vital message, stated with utmost economy, simplicity and clarity. And applicable to the mortal immediate present in the life of each of us. Thank you for creating it.

  4. Dr. Lou Verardo

    A lovely and gentle piece. A good nurse I worked with years ago had shared an expression I have never forgotten; it was her own personal mantra which was offered as an antidote to destructive self-criticism: “Be gentle with yourself.”

    Now your entry in Pulse today reminds me to not forget such good advice; thank you, Ms. Keeler.

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