Find Me Now a Safe Place from Cancer

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When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2022, I of course turned to my art.

Image of an x-ray of a breast with a tumor.

FIND ME NOW A SAFE PLACE

results delivered by cell phone at least I had seen the man’s face tabled

for him so he could probe my breast extract clues to my future a mermaid

laid on her side [sophomore biology lab: excised heart reposed on newsprint awaits

dissection our tool a single-edge razor pungent smell of ewe’s blood caught

in my nostrils sponge of muscle under fingertips slight resistance to the blade]

at the end of the procedure he had not offered hopeI sought

in his eyes what he knew later his wireless voice intoned: it’s cancerI knelt

reassured the fissure exposed bedrock but I could see the rest of days

girdled not knowing not knowing not knowing unfelt

precision titanium clip marks the spot no other purpose[unlike those

surgical stainless-steel pins my father kept on the wooden shelf next

to the kitchen’s princess phone]call complete I tranced to your study to disclose

our shared evanescence your rock-‘n-roll-era’s ears asked: what’s canceled?

I laughed how lovely indeed to leave all the questions unanswered

PEEPHOLE

into the dimmed room where you restedI stood witness beam

aimed first at your brain then at your lung ou had put on your best necklace

but there you were in a too-small gown exposed stung

now I am splayed on the table tunic oversized a smaller more targeted stream

[they tell me] no bystanders and I wonder did you feel equally as lonely cling

to facts like pearls [i.e. the exact location of cactus branching in my breast]

we did not speak about style and size of your tumor a flowering vine

of nasturtium you did not whine but smiled when you found

me in the reception room [we pretended you needed a driver

clutching that ruse like a scepter] and when you were freed I declined

to speak to the other patient back for more hair just duck-down

under her turban [your favorite choker now safe with my sister]

on my last day of treatment ready to consume the relief of conclusion

two returnees burned and bruised applaud a glacier ablates my illusion

CONVERGENCE

Mid-May morning dog-walk and in that dazzle that comes just at the rise of the sun

over the Picuris you notice your shadow has lost weight over the winter [a consequence

unmentioned by the makers of cancer medication] you play with the silhouette spreading

your hands your fingertips talons wool cap a tight construction no halo can penetrate

And you think about that border between the good a drug can do and its side effect show

at that edge things are weighed [big horned sheep at a cliff with a dog behind] and

someone [usually not you] makes a decision needing your assent in order to proceed

nudging you toward what they believe is best [“Patient was informed…”]

So many boundaries like this subjectively drawn between X and Y then given

names like “beauty” and “evil” and you realize you’d prefer to dwell with colors

where gradations feel more fluid

But rather than ponder when [precisely] the indigo of a rainbow becomes violet instead

you consider when a stamp becomes a tax or a gleam in the eye becomes a baby or a golem becomes a destroyer or a migration becomes a flight or fear becomes love or a border

a wall so many transformations on the path from birth to death You wonder

if this new thinner shadow could possibly squeeze through those steel uprights

at the border [are you there?]And you wonder about the canyon between yourself

and death splitting the distance in half and then in half again and then again and again

a limitless number of slices of pie [the infinite contained in the finite] a blue moon barrier

between you and that bright line the end containing the beginning containing the end

As I poet, I process my life experiences and thinking through the writing of poetry, and so when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2022, I of course turned to my art. I find writing poetry helps me to look at any dilemma sideways, while examining the complexities. My purpose in sharing these poems is to help the people reading them to feel less alone in the human condition.

This post was written and submitted by Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan. The article reflects the views of Kalogeros-Chattan and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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