Loosely emulating "Pantoum Evangel: Billy Sunday" by Gabriel Calvocoressi for an assignment in Intermediate Poetry. I highly recommend her poetry to anyone! This is not as metaphoric and is more narrative than her poem, but I wanted some of my family to be able to read it easily so there you go. This is not quite the final draft either so maybe I will update this when the poem is really finished...
Pantoum Diagnosis: Renal Cell Carcinoma
My dad is the strongest man I’ve ever met,
but that autumn we could all tell his headaches
were driving him crazy. Our family never saw doctors
so I knew it was serious when he made an appointment.
That autumn I could tell these headaches of his
were getting in the way of managing his life,
and I knew it was serious when he made an appointment
with a doctor to find out what was happening.
What could get in the way of his expert managing?
He must have been in so much pain to let
doctors try to find out what was happening.
They said it was anemia: a kidney tumor.
He must have been in so much pain to let
them schedule a complete nephrectomy
to stop this anemia by removing his kidney and tumor.
They even gave him morphine for the pain.
They scheduled a nephrectomy for December
so he would be okay in time for Christmas.
The morphine they gave him seemed too much.
One day he could barely get out of bed,
but we needed him to be okay in time,
so they did another test. An MRI when it snowed,
the same day he could barely get out of bed,
and by evening his eyes were empty ghosts.
After the other test, the MRI, while snow piled outside
mom started packing. She asked me to sit in the car
with Dad. I could hardly meet his eyes--empty ghosts
looking blankly at me from under drooping eyebrows.
Mom finished packing and came back out to the car
telling me they had to go to Spokane right away.
Dad’s eyes staring blankly, under drooping eyebrows,
I asked “Why?” Tears contained she says: “Brain tumor.”
They had to go to Spokane right away
or he might not make it. He might not make it?
I ask myself why and cry over the words brain and tumor
haunting my mind all night. I went to school
thinking he might not make it, he might not make it,
while smiling at friends and teachers, waiting for a call
haunting my mind all morning. I'm at school
while everyone else is at The Sacred Heart with Dad.
I keep smiling at friends and teachers, waiting--
the call comes in the middle of English class.
While everyone else is at The Sacred Heart with Dad
they call me and say “He made it through surgery.”
The call came in the middle of English class
and I had to start talking about who it was
that called me, and say who made it through surgery.
We never thought the hospital would give life and infection.
I had to start talking about Dad’s cancer
and the surgery coming up in December,
except the hospital gave him a staph infection.
Then they gave him I.V. antibiotics for eight weeks.
With the surgery pushed to early spring,
or whenever he could rid his body of the staph
his eight weeks on I.V. antibiotics was too much.
His strength began to melt off his bones.
Whenever he could rid his body of the staph
was enough for a nephrectomy during Spring Break.
His strength had melted off his bones
but somehow I thought the worst was over.
His kidney was removed during Spring Break,
and they gave him an infection there, too.
Somehow I thought the worst was over
before he spent three days in the I.C.U.
They gave him an infection in his blood
and it all could have ended right then,
but his three days spent in the I.C.U.
let him come home for a while.
It all could have ended that spring,
but even though we kept looking for cures
that let him come home once in a while,
we had to start accepting he might leave
even though we kept looking for cures.
His body now weaker than the mind could handle:
We had to start accepting he was leaving.
My dad was the strongest man I'd ever met.
Yes. Cathartic. You did get that from me. I'm not objective or dispassionate, so the full-out sobbing thing may not occur for the incidental reader, but it did for me. I love you, Sweetie. He was the strongest man I ever knew. Or ever will know, I daresay. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Every way. After all, he married me!ReplyDelete