poetry ~ one in two canadians

I submitted this poem to CBC’s 2018 poetry competition, but it wasn’t selected.  Instead I’d like to share it here with you …

one in two canadians

my breast whispered i am one in eight
i can’t do this i reply back

to lay awake poking at the lump
staring at my white popcorn ceiling

can i make an appointment? i plead
she’s back at the end of the month, i’m told

hold please!
elevator music does little to soothe the worried

doctor requisition forms for endless tests
are scheduled on the shortlist

but i must drive to the big smoke
for the earliest availability

i sit alone in the diagnostic imaging clinic
instagramming photos to follow my journey

no deodorant allowed for the mammo
i perspire with fear in my blue gown

and now we wait, i smile and pretend
it’s nothing, i tell myself

via one first class for the capital
business world marches on

medical rating a category five storm
i watch february’s freezing rain outside

no friday night king street crawl
needle aspiration site is black and blue

diagnosis: i have triple negative breast cancer
lotto 3 maximum drawn

please, no encore
my odds are chasing a losing streak

dr. x removes my tumour and her sentinel nodes
anesthesia lifted to stare at death

blue nuclear dye crime scene
angry frankenboob stitches, will they fade?

who am i? i wonder
and where did this killer come from

tests, tests and more tests
heartbeats counted, every crevice scanned

port of entry through my arm travels to my heart
nightmares bleed through my arteries

the dose-dense red devil toxifies my blood
go-directly-to-emerg card, i pass triage

we live in the pocket of the 49th and do not pay two hundred
instead, i wait and wait, too young to die

admitted to the reverse isolation chamber
waiting for a bed, i slumber, feverish

eat, sleep, vomit, weep, jab, repeat i hear a code blue
and watch families weep as i am wheeled by, numb

nurse’s humanity still glows in gloves, gowns and masks
medication and reassurance administered around the clock

my dogs receive visiting hours privileges
friends peek through the door to bring tims

be brave, they cry, you are a warrior
don’t tell me how to feel, i rant

discharged in six days, my red and white cells climb
while i descend alone into my treatment plan

curls have fallen out, brows and lashes too
i choose a wig with a quivering chin

welcome to the chemo lounge
i entertain the nurses with fake red hair and stilettos

iv pole dances while it cranks out my chemo cocktail
patients laugh and chatter, we sip canada dry ginger ale

can i climb that rocky mountain? twelve more weeks of poison
i measure walks in steps, not kilometres

breathless, i reach for the finish line
and ring the bell in triumph, friends and family gathered

three tiny blue tattoos to align radiation beams
radioactive photons collide and spark

i burn under a thousand suns in a moon’s orbit
stark borders of a charred triangle

my breasts will be reconstructed
and stand on guard again

one final visit to the cancer centre and i am cured
quietly without a trace, no paper trail

there is no final bill for i am fortunate
to live and die in the true North, strong and free

how much did my cancer treatment cost? i ask
everyone shrugs, no one knows

is half a million a fair guess?
yes, it seems reasonable, they say

one in two canadians will get cancer
the cbc reported

i am the one … if you are the two
let us both celebrate our good fortune

The Fox

Read the Fox blog:  Hear what the Fox really has to say

© 2018


One Comment Add yours

  1. Shawna Rae says:

    Beautiful! I felt like I was walking with you. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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