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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 

who say

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

fucking hole

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,

growing, glowing,

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.

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