by | Mar 10, 2021 | Poetry

She’s in a tiny room on floor eight,
If you drove the rescue helicopter by you could see
Her small bent head, tossing cookies.
The chemo, you know. It’s something to know.
It’s something not to know, as in,
Let’s not get acquainted.
But it’s too late for that now.
It’s so a part of her that her little mouth whispers,
Ativan, please.

A band of geese flies over and frees her spirit
For a while,
Taking her over the lake,
Spreading her body across the cool water,
Bringing the pastel out in her eyes.
The ripples soothe the waves in her stomach,
For a little while.

But she has to come back,
The boxy room waits for her,
Pressurized to let no germs in.
Germs had been her friends, on her dog’s tongue,
Her children’s hands,
Her husband’s kisses.
No more,
She’s allowed no flowers, no fruit.
Smiles come to her through masks,
Touches through gloves.

Tonight, her husband and daughter visit,
Bringing a movie.
Bolt, the little dog.
It strikes her so funny that nurses come in,
Alarmed over her tears.
They wonder if she has finally broken.

This is not the same woman that had days ago
Screamed for Fucking Ativan
When they did the bone marrow aspirate.
She had cursed the doctor, wished him a swift death.
She had cried and cried.
Now she’s a little bit stronger,
More given to her fate.

But what about when her fine red hair, its length,
Falls upon her pillow in clumps.
Her lavender eyes close for a moment,
Then open with purpose.
She collects the hair into a bag
For donation.
Then the husband and daughter again,
This time with clippers and a razor,
Shave and wash her scalp until it shines,
And the nurses applaud.

Two more weeks of chemo
Drives her white cells to nothing.
She laughs at lots of movies.
She throws up less.
She can go home on an expensive drug
Which will keep the leukemia from coming back
Until they can find her a stem cell donor.
That may take a long time,
Matching and tests.

The geese over her house take her on journeys, dropping her
In the lake where she can cleanse herself.

Her hair starts to come back,
This time black.
There comes word of a donor, then another.
Four of them fall through.

Finally, an Irish man.
She pictures him ruddy, red-haired, returning
From the field. His match is 9 out of 10.

This is what will happen to him.
He will get a shot of something
Which will make his white cells go crazy.
Then they will harvest his stem cells,
Which are like immature white cells.
Then the cells will come on a plane
And be injected into her, where hopefully they will
Grow into her new immune system.
She has some crazy science to thank.
She gets on her knees with her husband
And her children.

There is one more thing.
They say that she may take on
Some characteristics of the donor.
For two weeks she has been
Taking motorbikes apart
In the living room.


LEUKEMIA by Gary Moshimer



Photo used under CC

About The Author


Gary Moshimer has stories in Frigg, Smokelong Quarterly, Jellyfish Review, Blue Lake Review, and many other places.