Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Andrew built a wooden frame for privacy.
I planted morning glory seeds and sunflower seeds
to fill the space between us and neighbors.
It’s past Midsomer. The sunflowers stand happy sentinels,
as delicate vines begin to wind and climb to strangle them, unaware.
I spent a good part of the morning unwinding the precious threads
from the sunflower stalks they chose
to entangle around instead of the posts of the frame.
I wound the long vines around the wood frame.
The morning glories are lovely and few,
and too delicate for human touch
as they furl in their open selves toward noon.
It’s too hot in the midday humid sun
for me to try to untangle, and I have so much more
Useful things to do.
The precious vines I unwind have me
metaphoring to my cancer,
and how the surgeon, oncologist, pathologist
are trying to untangle
any remaining invisible cells
from my lymph nodes.
The two that held cancer
beyond the hard tumor in my breast,
my surgeon calls sentinel nodes,
My eldest son laughs
and compares the nodes
to a videogame sacrifice.
The gatekeepers are sacrificed
so the rest of the troops
can prepare for a defensive attack.
I'm trying to untangle all the medical
and financial information in a system
that commodifies my life as a sacrifice,
if we can’t pay
for the surgeries to cut the tumor and nodes out;
for the chemotherapy to air raid bomb
any infiltrating cancer cells out;
for the radiation after chemo,
just in case they find a single holdout in a hidden bunker
after all that residual damage is done.
I try to untangle how my daughters’
education won’t be sacrificed during this pandemic.
She can’t attend school or ride a bus,
a sacrificial lamb to a slaughter.
Since the governor can’t decide yet,
I decided for my child, for myself,
and family health.
Options are available beyond a classroom
full of covid and a myriad other disease vectors.
I untangled the pandemic from my cancer,
and the chemotherapy
that will wipe out my immune system,
like America bombs the Middle East.
The same philosophy behind both:
If we wipe it all out, maybe we’ll
get the bad guys: ISIS, cancer.
But how do I untangle the idea of destroying
what is supposed to protect me
on the off-chance a few cancer cells
may still float around in
undetermined corners of my body?
But morning glories aren’t cancer.
And sunflowers aren’t protecting us
from anymore than maybe a curious glance
or a stray hello.
The delicate lacy vines are precious
and carry beauty that changes
with the sun to protect itself
as it clings on for dear life.
I protect them both, with care,
the bowing strong, tall sunflowers,
and their delicate and dangerous
neighbor morning glories.
First draft 7/14/20