After 10 days in a hospital
you regain the ability
to walk albeit with a cane so I put the commode
out in the hall as you are laughing a bit more,
the gleam back, but the chemo starts
and the next morning again pain
in your ribs and sternum
and now it burns
in your chest and again you
Chemotherapy and radiation are not pleasant experiences, but knowing how to handle them can make your life a whole lot easier.
I had my first mammogram at age thirty-five, and for the next thirty-five years I had mammograms regularly. On my way, I’d pass the entrance to the Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital, outside of Richmond, VA, never thinking that I’d one day cross that threshold myself.
One weekend about nine-and-a-half years ago, I flew from Minneapolis, where I live, to Atlanta for a publishing conference. A colleague and I were to make a presentation to the vice-president of one of our major customers.
For a couple of weeks I’d been plagued by a sore throat, but I’d written it off as allergies or a virus. When I tried to begin the presentation, though, all that came out was
And while the stuff drips in, I’m rolling over
in my mind the two words: Kemo Sabe.
It’s the name that Tonto called his friend
the Lone Ranger, back in radio days.
I could use a trusty sidekick now,
crouched behind the white screen near the door,
ready in an instant to unsheathe
his blade, then back us slowly to the window.
We say goodbye, her hand goes up (but not
in time to catch me), then the breach: I kiss
my mother on the cheek. Oops, I say,
you’d better wash your face. We laugh, of course–
that’s the better way to make it through
the chemotherapeutic calendar.
But it’s no joke. Her white cell count is low.
I see my mother back away from me.
I’m treacherous. I’ve not observed the Ten