The Third Poem

The Third Poem

You are writing your third poem of the day.
More than your normal discipline,
a fishing expedition of words and soul,
trying to break loose the ice.

You got the news a month ago,
The tumor within not quite dead,
not quite as docile as you had hoped,
an enemy you thought vanquished
still lives.

You have no room for new battles,
when the old ones refuse to die
and you have lived in this halfway place
between hope and anger,
between fear and courage,
unable to fully articulate either.
Simply back in the battle. Sword swinging blindly,
trusting God and the doctors
to find the tiny demons within.

There is nothing you can do save show up each day
for your fifteen minutes in a science fiction movie,
the vast machine with its articulating arms
and lights. “Beam On”. Goodbye.
See you tomorrow.
and tomorrow. and tomorrow again.

You seem to have slowed down.
Your ability to feel stunted somehow.
Stunted again.

You look good. Everyone says so.
Strong from the surgery.
The color of your age, not of age itself.
The twinkle in your eye.
But you have slowed down.
You have not felt it yet. Not completely.
You are acting out of habit and discipline.

Waiting for it.
For the rush you know is coming.
Girding your heart. Your gut.
Poking your spear into the belly of the beast,
writing this, your third poem, knowing
eventually it will roar in anger
and the battle begins in earnest.

About this poem

I write often of my slow processing of emotions. Never have I felt that more than in my cancer battle. I was well into it all before the feelings really washed over me. I am finding the same thing now, as we fight what was not quite killed the first time around.

I use writing to help pry those emotions loose so I can deal with them. So this is kind of a “poking the bear” kind of poem.

Lest you think I am despondent, I am not. I chose to leave the last stanza off the poem because I felt leaving it off made a stronger poem. But here is what it said:

You are ready.
Each battle tells you can rise,
even when you fall back for a time,
you emerge, always the victor.

Be well. Life is precious and wonderful,

Tom

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