Another Day In Their White-Coated Lives
Is this a message?
Or is this just another day?
This is what life does, this is what they tell me
life grows cells --
cells that are mutant, mutated, odd
cells they say are not welcome in my body
cells I never met.
What if they are beautiful?
What if they are speaking to me?
Is this what life does?
At 58 my body is my body, an old friend,
familiar and timeworn, satisfying,
wrinkled, larger than when I was 16.
This is just another day with my body.
This is my body with mutated cells
I can’t see them
there is no way to grasp, to touch
to believe they exist
these strange reprogrammed cells –
I read about them in a report full of science
words that stab my brain.
There is nothing I can do
no medication I can take
no special foods to eat
I can’t exercise it away
or run away
I can’t wish it away.
Obliged to trust these strangers in white coats
these cells - they are not speaking to you
they are not beautiful or charming
these cells are trouble these cells are “it”
they are evil, treacherous
they need to come out.
The strangers spin they turn they
throw some words at me,
over their shoulders, saying
This is just another day!
One of them waves.
This is just another day –
another day in their white-coated lives.
I know there is a before and an after.
Is this a message? Or just another day?
Some of my friends galvanize me,
school me on mutated cells.
This is what life does, they say
Statistically, 1 out of every 43 women your age
will create these cells
these shapeless, thankless cells.
Some friends tell me this –
I don’t want to hear it
I don’t want comfort
I don’t want hope
I don’t want to be encouraged.
I want friends who hold me, text me,
say this is horrible
this is a nightmare.
Friends who know this is a gaping, burning
who know that I am lost.
I know that this is the world being torn in half.
The street beneath my feet breaks open
I gasp, gape,
panting as the hole between my legs opens
the street rips open, fast as fire.
Next everything tilts
and I slide down, slowly, slowly
scrabbling my nails against wet leaves, against yellow lines,
breaking my nails on asphalt
I slide down deep into God knows what.
Is this what life does?
unknown, unfathomable, abominable
Is this a message? From what? to what?
I want my old body back
My 16 year old body
My 36 year old body which was pregnant
full of beautiful cells belonging to my almost-daughter,
holding my life and her life
holding her life inside me,
growing her eyelashes
growing her fingernails.
This is what life does.
My body from a month ago would be fine
My body from a month ago was beautiful
My body from a month ago was not my enemy
My body from a month ago was inconsequential.
I fed it,
it walked, talked, slept
it made decisions bought groceries
brushed the cat
took out the garbage.
Tell me this –
where did that body go?
How can part of me be my enemy
bring death if I deny it?
I am possessed.
I am shaken, crippled, terrified,
I am growing a spore
I have become a host
I harbor an alien
every bad movie metaphor you can think of.
This is a message.
This is just another day.
This is the way life is.
It trips you up, knocks you down
knocks the wind out of you
your face scrapes the sidewalk
your belly on the concrete
and no one helps you up.
This is my life
ready or not, here it comes.