If I had cancer,
I wouldn't wear an itchy wig.
A scarf, maybe,
Or an outrageous hat
And a smile,
So people would call me brave,
Ask how I was faring
Or how they might help,
And visit me with well-intentioned casseroles
That I could not eat.
But I don’t.
I have an unheard-of disease
With an unpronounceable name,
It’s held at bay by chemo, too,
But compassionate casseroles have shelf-lives.
My disease does not.
And I have no outrageous hat, so:
“But you look so good--”
(Not “What can I do?”)
While my head throbs,
The skin under my skin is aflame,
And I swallow my thirty-two pills.
That’s thirty-two drugs,
Forty-eight pills, I think.
Except on chemo weeks,
Or when the sores bleed,
Or another infection takes hold,
Or my joints crackle and creak,
Or volcanic eruptions….
But I'm sorry; you don't want to hear that part.
And, oh, I have made my point.
And with so many treks
To so many specialists
(Nine at last count),
The pills are always changing
So that I can keep looking so good
So that I can go out
And shuffle my deck of comfortable lines,
Pick the right card to say for you,
Pretend that I can eat today,
(Make note of the nearest restroom),
Because I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.
So I won’t bring this up again.
(Unless-- please say that I can.)
But next chemo week,
Or next hibernation in sweaty week-old sweats
Wishing my water bottle were six inches closer,
I’d like to not wonder if you wonder where I am.
I’d like to not pretend for you.
And even though I couldn't eat it,
I’d really love a casserole.