Monday, May 23, 2011

I Keep Chipping Away

I've been working on a series of poems about breast cancer for months now. Writing, rewriting, and finding my muse in many places that I never even thought to look. This particular poem caused me many nights of lost sleep and moments of frustration, and the members of my writing group, who watched me as I brought a new version in each week, can attest to this. I was initially inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia exhibit at the Buffalo Museum of Science. I began reflecting on this idea of children at war and how perhaps we have some kind of innate strength that is present, even since birth. I used the idea of light as a symbol of my own strength, from which I was able to tap into many times over the last 6 months. This poem lay in its beginning stages for at least a couple months until one night, inspiration came to me. The title came to me in a half asleep-half awake state, after throwing off my blankets in the heat. I pictured a computer file labeled with the title One Good Rain, and I began to write and eventually finish this poem in this state of "in-between" consciousness. As I coast through my last few radiation treatments, I am very happy to present to you my latest literary creation and to say that the series is,at long last, complete.

One Good Rain

All we need is one good rain
To wash these sins away.
Too bad it’s not so easy
To become clean again.

In the beginning,
There was sword and shield,
To keep us fully clothed.
Then we had witness protection,
To keep away all our foes.

Now it’s just a crapshoot,
We have nowhere to hide.
For me it’s just a walk on the beach,
But I am not too sure of the tide.

There really is no use,
I can duck in every doorjamb,
But I will always be looking backward,
A weapon filling each hand.

Protect both the chest and head
With armor reinforced.
Not once, but twice,
To withstand the force
An army of 100 men.
The battle cry sounds with a rush,
Of arrows emerging swiftly,
Over the cries of lonely voices
A raging fireball arcs,
And turns this armor to ashen dust,
This hope to smoke.

The fallen counted as we pass
Through these years
To days, not less dangerous.
It is not within the integrity of the body,
But in its own stealthiness.
We can disappear into thin air,
But still find invasion from within.
Crossing the crime of the organized
Will only leave you
With a neck forever cricked
a gaze directed behind those eyes,
A throat not quite nicked.

Night falls over the bustling bar,
A glow arises from the corner.
An enticing circle of fire emerges,
From the dimness
Beyond, the face slowly becoming visible
In the darkness.
A world alive at dusk,
A youth riveting and vibrant,
Confident in her ignorance.

A tinkle of ice as the whiskey
Flows, the smell wafts over me,
Like a banana freshly peeled,
It passes my lips like a fantasy.
That numb little confidence I love
Has entered my skin.
I coast down its river through days
And months
And eventually years
To where I am right now.

Here in this room
Whiskey long forgotten
Yet still a part of me.
Is it really
A mere cellular memory?

That’s it.
The deed is done.
I’ve unsheathed the sword,
Released my own ball of fire,
Submitted my body to flame and forge.
I’ve opened the gate to chaos,
I’ve started this holey war.
I’ve crossed the mafia cell at its own game,
And I will always be looking back.
With a crick in my neck,
A dislocated shoulder,
Waiting for that next attack.

And I owe it all to those whiskey years,
And that marvelous carelessness.
In my innocence of youth,
I had grasped a light,
That has lingered ever since.
And it’s true.
It is still near,
Burning strong and very much

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