A doctor’s visit delayed
until nothing was 3 centimeters round,
the diagnosis: the C word.
A word we couldn’t say,
a word that caught in our throat
filling us with phlegm-like dread.
And so we entered a new country
with a new language.
Words like carcinoma, hematology
and dysplasia became as common as say,
hair, and blood, and nausea.
We became a cluster,
a coterie shrouded in scarves.
We joined the Church of Miracles
taking our plastic Lazy Boy seats
with our fellow supplicants
in the oncology ward.
Each had her own bottle of salvation
that dripped hope and despair
in the same vein.
For you, there was no redemption.
When flesh loosened from your bones
and your teeth shone like alabaster tombs,
I knew the time had come
for you to shatter
into nothing and into everything.
Lu Pierro is a Creative Writing Major at Warren Community College. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ars Poetica, Natural Awakenings, US1, Blast Furnace, If and Only If, and Threeandahalfpoint9, East Fork among other journals. She is the recipient of both the Dodge Foundation Scholarship and the Dorothy E. Laurence Scholarship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass.