The Nacre of Cancer

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I have no taste for whiskey,

although it seems over the years

I have developed a proclivity for cancer,

for building the nacre into  pearl.

 

It’s funny how one can live with death

scooted to the borders, listening to it

rap the door with sub-audible gusts

that only your dog hears and barks at.

 

The holy trinity, my wife calls it,

three masses on the left, right,

concluding down in a rectal triangle,

a parasite, a dark natural beauty of my years.

 

The bad genes of my parents play out their divorce

in my body, diabetes and cancer

fighting for the claim to death’s victory,

my only peace being to cut them both out.

 

The Great Physician puts my cure

in the hands of fallible demigods,

whose inclination is to bury hope in the

condolences of the other well-intentioned masses.

 

“It’s great that you feel no pain,

Your color looks good today,” they echo

as the pallid tv weatherman I met

in ruddy years on the brown river shuffles by.

 

The nacre of the cancer ward-

an open shirt skeleton on oxygen,

two old black men  talking loudly

about seasons of diagnosis and mistreatment,

 

just waiting, waiting, waiting to get better

caws at me as I make my way

to the reception table just bright enough

to not seem an open casket.

 

My wife fills out three pages asking

for family obituaries while I answer

on a tablet forty questions about death,

five about life, two about insurance.

 

I wait in quiet sitting in a clinical green chair

listening for my name to be called,

thinking not about the culled pearl

but the beautiful oyster thrown way.

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