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Sunday, May 1, 2011

14 Ways of Looking At The Diagnosis, Gail Entrekin


In the waiting room,
filling out forms.
Someone has hand-written in pencil
under diagnosis: leukemia.


She sobs every morning
the second he closes the door.
She understands, as he doesn’t yet,
that it’s never going to be the same again.


For a long time he believes

it’s a mistake.


She emails all the kids.
Some of them come homing in a flock,
incredulous and stunned.


She searches his body
for new signs. She stares at the swelling
on the side of his face, almost
licks it.


He tells her he dreamt she told him
they should divorce now
so the children get used to
not having him around
before he dies.


She looks up statistics on the Internet,
acquaints herself with worst case scenarios,
imagines waking up alone in their bed.


He becomes timid, begins
to think of himself
as a dying man.


He shaves off his 40-year-beard,
says he wants to see
himself one more time—
is shocked to find
an old man.


After a couple of months
he wakes up from the long
slow trance. He says
he plans to live.


He stops her in the kitchen,
takes her shoulders in his hands,
says he’s glad it’s him
instead of her. She says
she wishes they could share it,
each be only half as sick.


They plan to simplify their life
in case he becomes unable to help.
She says she hates
their unique life
becoming a cliché.


When they make love
she weeps, is sorry for
ruining the present
by grieving the future.


They don’t know how it will end,
but everybody dies.

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