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Cancer Suspect

ISSUE:  Autumn 2000

My body’s got a record to make a wreck
of any specialist; even the x-ray tech suspects
who crisply orders me to hold it,
OK, breathe. Any other woman
might spring too buoyantly one morning, miss
a step and chip or shatter who knows what
as she goes down, right? But watch out
for this gal. What I might pull on them,
who knows? Off with my clothes, my watch, my plans—
I’m going nowhere until they’ve scanned
the whole ocean’s bottommost stones.

When the doctor on patrol, arms folded
across results, lets me go, I dive
below an invisible velvet rope and feel
it slip across my skin, then scram—
I’m on the lam again, hiding, hip
to hip among the law-abiders,
rolling in unpromised opulence,
keeping my raptures under wraps. I’m not about
to crow, Don’t pluck me out raptor! No.
I’ll bow my head above any book
so no one calls my name.
I’ll disappear in a mob of shoppers, searching
through price-slashed silks for a future’s plush
stash of what-oh-what-to-wear,

If some brute tumult of terror
turns me out of my own house, so be it.
Look—I could be any woman out there—
hoisting up her child, bending to lift
a tipped over trike so no one trips,
setting it upright on a summer lawn.


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