Slow dancing at the Med-Inn

F. Richard Thomas
From: The Cancer Poetry Project: poems by cancer patients and those who love them.
Karin B. Miller, editor. Fairview Press, 2001.

It's the night before your mastectomies.

I'm sitting on the end of the bed.
(We got the faded-orange-curtain-40-watt-lightbulb-
green-chenille-bedspread room.)

From the shower,
you suddenly loom over me,
smelling of peppermint soap and wet leaves
around the lake in the fall.

Holding a breast in each hand,
as if restraining the flight of doves,
you press them to my face and erupt into tears.

I touch my lips to one, then the other,
falter at the scent of my self -
the joyful signature of my fingers and hands.

I pull your body hard to mine,
as if to hurt will help to heal.

The room fades in and out like a bad radio.
The baseboard heater tick tick ticks.

Outside, the helicopter walloping on the roof
lowers a burned child,
stars explode across the night,
volcanoes rise from the ocean floor,
wobble the earth on its axis.

Except for our breathing,
we dare not move.

A courtesy acknowledgment to:
F. Richard Thomas, Death at Camp Palooka, Michigan State University Press, 2000