And this is how the end of my life begins.
I was waiting to hear if I was dying or not,
perched on the edge of an ugly orange chair
because I can’t stand hospital beds
and because I didn’t really want to know the answer
to that question,
I inquired about your sickness.
As an answer, you said
if your body will no longer hold you,
where will you spill?
Are you a glass of water sloshed onto the kitchen floor
seeping into every crack and crevice, begging for bottles, buckets,
someone’s outstretched hands formed into a cup?
Will you eventually meet a wild and raging river?
You, only one small molecule now, having scattered bits of yourself
every single step along this sweeping journey.
You tell me that you have already announced your death on Facebook
and that you post periodic updates.
I wanted a more comfortable response.
Something that didn’t require getting my hands dirty.
Something that didn’t sound quite so much like the sobbing
of the voice in my own head.
It seems logical to me that the dying would recognize the dying.
Probably a little known form of black magic, wouldn’t you say?
You say nothing and I sure as fuck say nothing
because I don’t yet know how to raise my fists
against this poison.
Later today my name will become terrible, terrible surprise
and no amount of wishing will change that.
Nevertheless, I do wish.
I wish my name were sweeter
like a bellyful of gummy bears
or a tree of cherry blossoms
opening their mouths to the oncoming rain.
My breasts are dangerous knives flashing in the night.
At this point, another name for cruelty is calendar
and a calendar is nothing
more than a method of counting the time
that we don’t have left.
And so I don’t ask again about your cancer.
Instead, I pretend to read the latest edition of Cosmo.
We sit in silence, your face an empty canvas but your eyes shrieking this:
Woman, this will be that year.
The one in which everything lists
a little to the left
while you dig your fingernails
into the wood and grip the railings
Those very same stars that you love will collide noiselessly
above thick, slumbering mountains
which care not one tick for your joy.
Each bright day will fade into the next.
One day you will rise too early
to the sound of nothing
but your own labored breath and sigh.
You will pluck your dreams from the air,
capture them between steepled fingers,
and struggle valiantly to hold onto them,
the heft lead in your palms.
Let them go. The end is so much nearer than you think.
I look you square in the eye and say – the truth is, I’d rather not know.
And then I walk out into the silence of the night
to make the most of every single second that I have left.