Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cancer has me

Two in one day. I know!!

Got a phone message today saying that my aunt, who has multiple myeloma, is in the hospital. Things have been looking worse for her lately. She's survived almost 13 years so far with this disease, but it's nasty. Much worse than breast cancer (not a "good" one, for sure). I don't have details, but this is her second hospital stay in the last several weeks, and I know her current chemo has been extremely tough. So I'm feeling some concern, and it makes me reflective.

So...I guess this is kind of for her...

[ ]

Cancer has me
by one ear, like
a truculent child,
and marches me
to the window.

"Hand it over then."

All of it, turns out.

The collector, fat-faced,
Brushes each thing with listless fingers
as I thud it
on the counter

Lean brown arms and legs
(The muscles wither,
lying there--)
Breath, gassy and bright.
Clarity of thought,
a smooth skein--
the collector scuds a thumb
in the middle, leaves
a tangled heap.
A row of tomorrows,
lined neatly like dice.
The collector sneezes, and
they tumble
one into the next
and lie still.

Hardest of all, that rounded thought,
opaque with certainty,
solid as eggshell
surrounding me,
that I am safe
and blessed.

At the end, I stand
not naked
but stripped

Some things they let me keep.
I hold them
piled like smelly clothes
as Cancer shoves me onward,
a boot to my back:
Fear. Pain.
Long hours
in which to know this all.

The door behind me,
with a clang...

It’s not a cell, but
Vast white, limitless

I can’t see where
to put my foot.

But my arms open
and let fall what I held
so my fingers can pull
from under my tongue
a talisman,
now in my fist.

Cancer is on this side
of the door--with me--
But quiet now,
I won’t hear a breath
Until one day
That boot crushes my neck.

Right now, though--
this moment--
Warmth starts in my hand,
hard with victory.
I close my eyes.
I melt into whiteness.


Minerva said...

Wow, you really can write..
That was so immediate - thank you..
And lovely talking tonight,


eagreenhalgh said...

You have a beautiful mind and I hope you survive. I wasn't going to leave a comment but people come and go to my website without a comment I often say just a word of encouragement would have been nice. Poetry is such a beautiful and absolutely impractical thing as to be almost useless, but humanity needs poetry and those who can create it , we are more than animals we are souls.So take encouragement. On the serious side I am a cancer survivor, but cancer wasn't the hard part I have to survive the blacklisting and hatred from bad scientists. See my website , just for the encouragement if you have the time as I survived cancer without chemo or radiation and when you have a bad day realize there are those of us who can't write poetry but are risking our lives and livelihoods so a cure for cancer can be found. Your words were beautiful .All the best Edward A.Greenhalgh

Carolyn said...

Hi Jenny,
I wanted to thank you again for your time on Monday and let you know that I called out to you in my blog yesterday. Take a look when you have a moment.
Good luck in your battle and know that I’ll be following your posts and also sending positive brain waves your way.
Lastly, let me know if you might be able to take 30 minutes at some point to talk about the finer points of our new build in breast cancer.

Best wishes,


Carolyn Hall
Cancer Center Manager
Revolution Health
1250 Connecticut Ave., NW, 6th Fl
Washington, DC 20036
Office: 202-292-3903
Cell: 817-846-5196
AIM: carolynhall19

Anonymous said...

I'm commenting mainly because I don't want to break my streak of commenting on every one of your blog posts. But anything I might add here would stand less than meaningless in the shadow of your poem. So I'll just thank you for sharing your fears and hopes, struggles and strategies, and challenges and victories with me and the world. TYTB & ILYMTYLM!

Anonymous said...


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