Happy bank holiday! For me, this long weekend is appearing between scans and checkups, as snatches of joy often do. I had my PET scan on Wednesday, which was a breeze – it’s always easier when you’ve done something before. I had a nap during the scan last time, and this time was no different, except this time my leg didnt jerk in my sleep and wake me up panicking that I had unintentionally moved. The results should come back in a week or two. Next Friday is my gastroscopy, at a completely different hospital, so Peter and I are continuing our tour of the local medical establishments.
Anyway, I wanted to share a poem today, because I haven’t posted one for a while and I haven’t submitted much to lit mags or had anything published for a while, either. Here’s something I wrote on the way home from a friend’s house last week, and the photo that follows is my terrible attempt at taking a photo of the moon that same night.
The moon behind the church
I want to live where I can see the moon. I want to be with people who can see and nod and agree with my assertions about the beauty of the moon. When the traffic slows, I like to think it’s because every driver is trying to get a really good look at the moon. I want us all to turn off our own moons – headlights – and slow to see the moon behind the church.
I pull over to take a picture. Get my good side, it says, keeping its cheek turned. I comply, the photo doesn’t turn out quite right – I don’t have the tools – but I am happy to sit, forget the day the sun had burned, and let my head cool as I admire the moon behind the church.
Did it snow this winter? I can’t remember watching flakes fall from my armchair but really, wrapped in recovery, I was not here.
It was hot last summer. I remember roasting watching the football, sweating walking into town for drinks to help me forget that I was too much here.
I’ve spent sporadic seconds each season wondering what the point is in seeing the next one if illness and fear is all there is for me, if nothing I expected to happen is waiting for me, wishing I wasn’t still here.
Summer is slinking around again and the bio oil I rub on my scars smells like a Floridian hotel in a way I can’t quite identify, but is surely a metaphor for how Orlando in four seasons’ time can heal, can erase, can smooth out, can soften me, can help me remember why I am still here.
these are not tales of wanting to be close
but tales of need
tales of nothing else will do
tales of we are losing anyway
I tail off when we try to make sense
of what is happening
when all we have is positivity all the while
listening to others complaining about
the mundane, the unimportant, taking
suggestions from people who have
no idea pretending to make notes
in my invisible notebook – my no-book
wearing an invisible grimace as they speak
they don’t have to travel an hour to
talk to an expert, they don’t have to prepare
their bodies for impact, their brains for
impact, their nerves to be wracked
but we pretend that is okay
all the while wanting – no, needing –
to get away, to return home,
wherever home may feel today –
home is where I can tell these tales
before we trail off and stare into space
lost together but tied together
in the want – no, the need –
to be close.
My heartbeat makes my loose-fitting
t-shirt flutter rhythmically
over my chest. I stop breathing
so I can see the full effect,
watch the fabric
fall in, fall out.
Braless breasts separated as if
in argument, creating a cavity
at my centre. Each tiny shudder
makes me feel thinner
than I am, more fragile
than I am. Makes me wonder
what I am.
Every pound of my chest disturbs
the white cotton, reveals my
torso as empty. A trampoline
for tiny ghosts, only the bounces
to be seen. Only the tremors
of the canvas to be found, the concave
and the rebound.
I am only little,
I am only gentle,
I am only nothing.
But we keep going. One organ at a time,
one anomaly at a time.
Keep cutting it out until there is
What will be left of me,
in the end?
Only tiny ghosts jumping,
only a tiny heart thumping wildly
Fall in, fall out.
June, d’you know
when you will end
can anyone tell me
when it ends
if it ends
I have been searching
for the tail of the thread
but it disappears between
the month so short
where does it end
what lies ahead
what sinks beneath
the surface of calm
the surface of thirty
of sweet words
of meet again soon
of I love yous
of ways we amuse ourselves
press the panic down
into each other
grapple for something
we must voice
what lurks beneath
the fear that penetrates our skin
the worry we absorb
anxiety we bathe our muscles in
desperation that resides within
something akin to over-feeling
that overwhelm that sinks between